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A DAUGHTER OF 
THE SAMURAI 

BY, 

• ETSU INAGAKI SUGIMOTO 

INSTRUCTOR IN JAPANESE LANGUAGE AND 
HISTORY, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY 



How a daughter of feudal Japan^ living 
hundreds of years in one generation^ 
became a modern American 


FRONTISPIECE 

BY 

ICHIRO HORI 


'.GAEBEN. CITY ^ ■O:.;. NEW YORE' V' 

DOUBLEDAY:-PAGE y COMPANY 

1926 





ACKNOWLEDGMENT ' ■ 

Much of the materia! of this book originally appeared in 
Asia but has been thoroughly revised for book publication. 

■# 




# 



COPYRIGHT, 1925, BIT DOUBLEDAY, PACE 
it COMPANY. ABl. RIGHTS RESERVED. 
PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES AT THE 
COUNTRY RIFE PRESS, GARDEN CITY. N. t. 


WITH RESPECT ^ND LOVE AND DEEPEST GRATITUDE 
I DEDICATE THESE SACRED MEMORIES 

TO 

MY TWO MOTHERS 


WHOSE LIVES AND ENVIRONMENTS WERE FAR APART, 
YET WHOSE HEARTS MET IN MINE 




ACKNOWLEDGMENT 

TO 

NANCY VIRGINIA AUSTEN 

Whose pleasant friendship, energetic spirit, and practical 
knowledge encouraged me to believe that a little Etsu-bo, 
with a heart full of love for old Japan, could gather the 
falling fragments of samurai spirit and weave them into 
a fragrant chain for the readers of to-day. 





I; 


. # 

CONTENTS 

CHAPTER PAGE 

I. Winters in Echigo . . . . . . . . i 

11 . €urly Hair . . ... . , . . . . ii 

III. Days of Kan 17 

IV. The Old ^nd the New 25 

V. Falling Leaves * . . 33 

VI. A Sunny New Year 42 

VII. The Wedding That Never Was .... 53 

VIII. Two Ventures 61 

IX. The Story of a Marionette 73 

X. The Day of the Bird 87 

XI. My First Journey 98 

XII. Travel Education 107 

XIII. Foreigners ii8 

XIV. Lessons 127 

XV. How I Became a Christian 137 

XVI. Sailing Unknown Seas 148 



XVII. First Impressions 160 


IX 




INTRODUCTION 


T here are many happy adventures for those who 
work in the strange world of printers’ ink; and in some 
* lucky moment of inspiration, several years ago, I asked 
Mrs. Sugimoto to write, for my column in a Philadelphia 
newspaper, some little memories of her girlhood in Japan. 
The story of the dog Shiro, whose prosperity in a future 
life she endangere(J by giving him her own cushion; her 
childish sadness about her curly hair; her pensive trouble 
when she discovered that American women were not 
really more modest than Japanese — these and a few other 
charming episodes first found their way into print in that 
newspaper, and. gradually led to this beautiful and thrill- 
ing book. It is an honour to be asked by Mrs. Sugimoto 
to say a word of introduction here. I only wish that I 
knew how to make it ceremonious enough. For the inner 
suggestion of her book is surely that life in its highest 
moments is a kind of ceremony in honour of the unknown 
gods. “The eyelids of. a Samurai,” Mrs. Sugimoto tells 
us, “ know not moisture.” But the “ red barbarians,” who 
have not learned the old stoic art, may be forgiven if they 
feel occasionally, among her tender paragraphs, that 
dangerous prickling that great truth conveys. 

What a lovely book it is, and how much it has to teach 
us. I have a secret notion that it will go on for years 
and years, making friends for itself and for the brave 
woman who wrote it, and also — -this would please her most 
— friends for Japan. Is it pot a perfect book for children 
to read? I don’t know any collection of fairy tales more 




A DAUGHTER OF THE SAMURAI 




A DAUGHTER OF THE SAMURAI 


• . CHAPTERI 

WINTERS IN ECHIGO 

J APAN is often called by foreign people a land of sun- 
shine and cherry blossoms. This is because tourists 
generally visit only the eastern and southern parts of the 
country, where the climate is mild all the year round. 
On the northwest coast the winters are long, snow often 
covering the ground from December to March or April. 

In the province of Echigo, where was my home, winter 
usually began with a heavy snow which came down fast 
and steady until only the thick, round ridge-poles of our 
thatched roofs could be seen. Then groups of coolies, 
with straw mats over their shoulders and big woven hats 
that looked like umbrellas, came and with broad wooden 
shovels cut tunnels through from one side of the street 
to the other. The snow was not removed from the middle 
of the street all winter. It lay in a long pile, towering 
far above the house-tops. The coolies cut steps, for they 
were carrying snow at intervals all winter, and we children 
used to climb up and run along the top. We played many 
games there, sometimes pretending we were knights res- 
cuing a snow-bound village, or fierce brigands stealing 
upon it for an attack. 

But a still more excitir^ time for us was before the 
snow came, when the entire town was making preparations 
for winter. This always took several weeks, and each 



2 A DAUGHTER OF THE SAMURAI 

day as we went to and from school we would stop to 
watch the coolies busily wrapping the statues and small 
shrines along the streets in their winter clothing 4 >f straw. 
The stone lanterns and all the trees and bushes of our 
gardens were enclosed in straw, and even the outside walls 
of the temples were protected by sheets of matting fastened 
on with strips of bamboo, or immense nettings made of 
straw rope. Every day the streets presented a new ap- 
pearance, and by the time the big carved lions at the 
temple steps were covered, we were a city of grotesque 
straw tents of every shape and size, waiting for the snow 
that would bury us in for three or four months. 

Most large houses had thatched roots with wide eaves, 
but the shops on the streets had shingled roofs weighted 
with stones to prevent avalanches when the snow began to 
melt in the spring. Above all the sidewalks extended a 
permanent roof, and during the winter the sidewalks were 
enclosed by walls of upright boards with an occasional 
panel of oiled paper, which turned them into long halls, 
where we could walk all over town in the stormiest weather, 
entirely protected from wind and snow. These halls were 
dim, but not dark, for light shines through snow pretty 
well, and even at the street corners, where we crossed 
through the snow tunnels, it was light enough for us to 
read good-sized characters. Many a time, coming home 
from school, I have read my lessons in the tunnel, pre- 
tending that I was one of the ancient sages who studied 
by snow-light. ' 

Echigo, which means “Behind the Mountains,” is so 
shut off from the rest of Japan by the long Kiso range 
that during the early feudal days it was considered by 
the Government only a frozen outpost suitable as a place 
of exile for offenders too strong in position or influence to 
be treated as criminals. To this class belonged reformers. 
In those days Japan had little tolerance for reforms 



WINTERS IN EGHIGO 


3 

either in politics or religion, and an especially progressive 
thi»ker at court or a broad-minded monk was branded as 
equally obnoxious and sent to some desolate spot where 
his ambitions would be permanently crushed. Most 
political offenders that were sent to Echigo either filled 
the graves of the little cemetery beyond the execution 
ground or lost themselves in some simple home among 
• the peasgints. Our literature holds many a pathetic 
tale of some rich and titled youth, who, disguised as a 
pilgrim, wanders through the villages of Echigo, searching 
for his lost father. 

The religious refiormers fared better; for they generally 
spent their lives in working quietly and inoffensively 
among the people. Some founders of new Buddhist 
sects exiled for a lifetime, were men of great ability, and 
gradually their belief spread so widely that Echigo became 
known all over Japan as the stronghold of reformed 
Buddhism. From earliest childhood I was familiar with 
priest tales and was accustomed to seeing pictures of 
images cut on the rocks or carved figures standing in 
caves on the mountain-sides — the work of the tireless 
hands of those ancient monks. 

My home was in the old castle town of Nagaoka. 
Our household consisted of my father and mother, my 
honoured grandmother, my brother, my sister, and myself. 
Then there was Jiya, my father’s head servant, and my 
nurse, Ishi, besides Kin and Toshi. Several other old 
servants came and went on occasions. I had married 
sisters, all in distant homes except the eldest, who lived 
about half a day’s jinrikisha ride from Nagaoka. She 
came occasionally to visit us, and sometimes I went home 
with her to spend several days in her big thatched farm- 
house, which had been, ifli ancient days, the fortress of 
three mountains. Samurai families often married into 
the farmer class, which was next in rank to the military. 


4 


A DAUGHTER OF THE SAMURAI 


and much respected, for “one who owns rice villages holds 
the life of the nation in his hand.” 

We lived just on the edge of the town in a huge, ^ramb ling 
house that had been added to from time to time ever 
since I could remember. As a result, the heavy thatched 
roof sagged at the gable joinings, the plaster walls had 
numerous jogs and patches, and the many rooms of various 
sizes were connected by narrow, crooked halls that twisted r- 
about in a most unexpected manner. Surrounding the 
house, but some distance away, was a high wall of broken 
boulders, topped with a low, solid fence of wood. The 
roof of the gateway had tipped-up cojners, and patches 
of moss on the brown thatch. It was supported by 
immense posts between which swung wooden gates witlx 
ornamental iron hinges that reached halfway across the 
heavy boards. On each side there extended, for a short 
distance, a plaster wall pierced by a long, narrow window 
with wooden bars. The gates were always open during 
the day, but if at night there came knocking and the call 
“ T ano-mo-o! Tano-mo-or* (I ask to enter!) even in the 
well-known voice of a neighbour, Jiya was so loyal to old- 
time habit that he invariably ran to peep through one of 
these windows before opening the gate to the guest. 

From the gateway to the house was a walk of large, 
uneven stones, in the wide cracks of which grew the first 
foreign flowers that I ever saw — ^short-stemmed, round- 
headed little things that Jiya called “giant’s buttons.” 
Someone had given him the seed; and as he considered no 
foreign flower worthy of the dignity of a place in our 
garden, he cunningly planted them where they would 
be trod upon by our disrespectful feet. But they were 
hardy plants and grew as luxuriantly as moss. 

That our home was such a> makeshift was the result 
of one of the tragedies of the Restoration. Echigo 
Province was one of those that had believed in the dual 


WINTERS IN ECHIGO 


5 

government. To our people, the Mikado was too sacred 
to fee in touch with war, or even annoying civil matters, 
and so they fought to uphold the shogun power to which, 
for generations, their ancestors had been loyal. At that 
time my father was karo, or first counsellor of the daimiate 
of Nagaoka, a position which he had held since the age 
of seven, when the sudden death of my grandfather had 
left ft vapant. Because of certain unusual circumstances, 
my father was the only executive in power, and thus 
it was that during the wars of the Restoration he had the 
responsibility and the duties of the office of daimio. 

At the bitterest moment that Nagaoka ever knew, 
Echigo found herself on the defeated side. When my 
mother learned that her husband’s cause was lost and he 
taken prisoner, she sent her household to a place of safety, 
and then, to prevent the mansion from falling into the 
hands of the enemy, she with her own hands set fire to it 
and from the mountain-side watched it burn to the ground. 

After the stormy days of war were past and Father 
finally was free from the governorship which he had been 
directed to retain until the central government became 
stabilized, he gathered together the remains of his family 
estate, and after sharing with his now “fish-on-land” re- 
tainers, he built this temporary home on the site of his 
former mansion. Then he planted a mulberry grove on 
a few acres of land near by and prided himself on having 
levelled his rank to the class of farmer. Men of samurai 
rank knew nothing about business. It had always been 
considered a disgrace for them to handle money; so the 
management of all business affairs was left to faithful 
but wholly inexperienced Jiya, while Father devoted his 
life to reading, to memories, and to introducing unwelcome 
ideas of progressive reformto his less advanced neighbours. 

My father, however, held on to one extravagance. The 
formal once-in-two-years journey to the capital, which. 


6 A DAUGHTER OF THE SAMURAI 

before the Restoration, the law required of men of his 
position, was now changed to an informal annual -trip 
which he laughingly called the “window toward growing 
days.” The name was most appropriate^ for this yearly 
visit of my father gave his whole family a distant view of 
progressing Japan. Besides the wonderful word pictures, 
he also brought us gifts of strange, unknown things— 
trinkets for the servants, toys for the children, usjpful house 
articles for Mother, and often rare imported things for the 
much-honoured grandmother. 

Jiya always accompanied Father on these trips, and, 
in his position as business manager, came in contact with 
tradesmen and heard many tales of the methods of for- 
eigners in dealing with Japanese. The cleverness of the 
foreign business system was acknowledged by everyone, 
and although frequently disastrous to the Japanese, it 
aroused admiration and a desire to imitate. A more 
honest soul than Jiya never lived, but in his desire to be 
loyal to the interests of his much-loved master he once got 
our family name into a tangle of disgrace that took months 
of time and much money to straighten out. Indeed, 
I doubt if the matter was ever clearly understood by any 
of the parties. I know it was a sore puzzle to Jiya as long 
as he lived. It happened in this way. 

Jiya became acquainted with a Japanese man, who, 
as agent for a foreigner, was buying up cards of silkworm 
eggs from all the villages around. Such cards were prepared 
by having painted on them, with a special ink, the name 
or crest of the owner. Then the cards were placed beneath 
the butterflies, which lay on them their small, seed-like 
eggs by the thousands. The cards were finally classified 
and sold to dealers. 

This agent, who was a very wealthy man, told Jiya that 
if mustard seeds were substituted for the eggs, the cards 
would sell at a profit that would make his master rich. 



WINTERS IN ECHIGO 7 

This, the agent explained, was a foreign business method 
being adopted now by the merchants of Yokohama. 
It was known as “ the new way of making Japan strong, 
so the high-nosed barbarian could no longer beat the 
children of Japan in trade.” 

As my father’s mulberry grove furnished food for many 
of the silkworms in near-by villages, his name was a good 
• one f®r tlje agent to use, and poor Jiya, delighted to be 
doing business in the clever new way, was of course a 
willing tool. The man prepared the cards to the value of 
hundreds of yen — all marked with my father’s crest. 
Probably he pock^ed all the money; anyway, the first 
we knew of the affair was when a very tall, red-faced 
foreign man, in strange, pipe-like garments, called to see 
my father. How well I remember that important day! 
Sister and I, with moistened finger-tips, melted tiny holes 
in the paper doors, to peep at the wonderful stranger. 
We knew it was rude and low class, but it was the oppor- 
tunity of a lifetime. 

I have no reason to think that foreign man was in any 
way to blame; and possibly— possibly— the agent also 
thought that he was only competing in cleverness with the 
foreigner. So many things were misunderstood in those 
strange days. Of course, my father, who had known 
absolutely nothing of the transaction, paid the price and 
made good his name, but I doubt if he ever understood 
what it all meant. This was one of the many pathetic 
attempts made in those days by simple-minded vassals, 
whose loyal, blundering hearts were filled with more 
love than wisdom. 

In the long winter evenings I was very fond of slipping 
away to the servants’ hall to watch the work going on 
there and to hear stories. @ne evening, when I was about 
seven years old, I was hurrying along the zigzag porch 
leading to that part of the house when I heard voices 



8 A DAUGHTER OF THE SAMURAI 

mingling with the thuds of soft snow being thrown from 
the roof. It was unusual to have the roof cleared «fter 
dark, but Jiya was up there arguing with the head coolie 
and insisting that the work must be done that night- 

“At the rate the snow is falling,” I heard him say, “it 
will crush the roof before morning.” 

One of the coolies muttered something about its being 
time for temple service, and I noticed the dull tq}ling*bf the 
temple bell. However, Jiya had his way, and the men 
went on with the work. I was astonished at the daring 
of the coolie who had ventured to question Jiya’s com- 
mand. To my childish mind, Jiya^ was a remarkable 
person who was always right and whose word was law. 
But with all my respect for his wisdom, I loved him with 
all my heart; and with reason, for he was never too busy 
to twist up a straw doll for me, or to tell me a story as 
I sat on a garden stone watching him work. 

The servants’ hall was a very large room. One half 
of the board floor had straw mats scattered here and there. 
This was the part where the spinning, rice-grinding, and 
the various occupations of the kitchen went on. The 
other half, where rough or untidy work was done, was of 
hard clay. In the middle of the room was the fireplace — 
a big, clay-lined box sunk in the floor, with a basket of 
firewood beside it. From a beam high above hung a 
chain from which swung various implements used in 
cooking. The smoke passed out through an opening in 
the centre of the roof, above which was a small extra roof 
to keep out the rain. 

As I entered the big room, the air was filled with the 
buzz of work mingled with chatter and laughter. In one 
corner was a maid grinding rice for to-morrow’s dumplings; 
another was making padded* scrub-cloths out of an old 
kimono; two others were tossing from one to the other 
the shallow basket that shook the dark beans from the 



WINTERS IN ECHIGO 


9 

white, and a little apart from the others sat Ishi whirling 
her spinning wheel with a little tapping stick. 

There was a rustle of welcome for me, for the servants 
all liked a visit from “Etsu-bo Sama,” as they called me. 
One hurried to bring me a cushion and another tossed a 
handful of dried chestnut hulls on the glowing fire. I 
loved the changing tints of chestnut hull embers, and 
, stripped a^moment to watch them. 

“Come nere, Etsu-bo Sama!” called a soft voice. 

It was Ishi. She had moved over on to the mat, leaving 
her cushion for me. She knew I loved to turn the spinning 
wheel, so she pushe^ the cotton ball into my hand, holding 
her own safely over it. I can yet feel the soft pull of the 
thread slipping through my fingers as I whirled the big 
wheel. I am afraid that I spun a very uneven thread, 
and it was probably fortunate for her work that my 
attention was soon attracted by Jiya’s entrance. He 
pulled a mat over to the clay side of the room and in a 
moment was seated with his foot stretched out, holding 
between his toes one end of the rope he was twisting out 
of rice-straw. 

“ Jiya San,” called Ishi, “we have an honoured guest.” 

Jiya looked up quickly, and with a funny, bobby bow 
above his stretched rope, he smilingly held up a pair of 
straw shoes dangling from a cord. 

“Ah!” I cried, jumping up quickly and running across 
the clay floor to him, “are they my snow-shoes? Have 
you finished them?” 

“Yes, Etsu-bo Sama,” he answered, putting in my 
hands a pair of small straw boots, “and I have finished 
them just in time. This is going to be the deepest snow 
we have had this year. When you go to school to-morrow 
you can take a short cut, straight over the brooks and 
fields, for there will be no roads anywhere.” 

As usual Jiya’s prediction was right. Without our 



lO 


A DAUGHTER OF THE SAMURAI 


snow-boots we girls could not have gone to school at all. 
Moreover, his persistence with the coolies had savedi our 
roof; for before morning five feet more of snow® filled the 
deep-cut paths and piled on top of the long white mountain 
in the street. 



CHAPTER II 


CURLY HAIR 

• /^NE day the servants returned from temple service 
talking excitedly about a fire at Kyoto which had 
destroyed the great Hongwanji. As this was the prince 
temple of Shin, the sect most popular among the masses, 
interest in its rebuilding was widespread, and donations 
were being sent from every part of the Empire. The 
Buddhist exiles of ancient time had left their impress*upon 
Echigo to such an extent that it soon excelled all other 
provinces in eagerness to give, and Nagaoka was the very 
centre of the enthusiasm. 

The first and the fifteenth of each month, being work- 
men’s holidays, were favourite times for collecting; and as 
our gifts were mostly of our own products, it was interest- 
ing to watch the people who thronged the streets on these 
days. Besides our own townsfolk, each one carrying 
a basket or bundle, groups kept coming every hour of the 
day from the mountains and from neighbouring villages. 
There were men laden with bunches of hemp and coils of 
rope, or with bundles of bamboo poles, the long ends 
trailing on the ground as they walked; women from weaving 
villages weighted down with bolts of silk or cotton; and 
farmers pulling long carts piled high with bales of “the 
five grains” — rice, millet, wheat, oats, and beans — ^with 
the farmer’s wife (frequently with a baby on her back) 
pushing at the end. All these gifts were taken to a large 
building put up on purpose*for them, and every day the 
collection grew. 



12 A DAUGHTER OF THE SAMURAI 

One day Ishi and I were standing just within our big 
gateway, watching the people go by. I noticed'that 
almost every woman had her head wrapped irf the blue- 
and-white towel that servants wear when dusting or 
working in the kitchen. 

“Why does everybody wear tenugui on the streets?” 

I asked. 

“Those women have cut their hair, Etsu-feo Sama,”* 
Ishi replied. 

“Are they all widows?” I asked in astonishment; for 
it was the custom for a widow to cut off her hair at the 
neck and bury half of it with her husband, the other half 
being kept until her own death. 

I thought I had never seen so many widows in my life, 
but I soon learned that these women had cut olF most of 
their hair that it might be braided into a huge rope to be 
used in drawing the lumber for the important centre beam 
of the new temple. Our own servants had cut big bunches 
from their heads, but, with more moderate enthusiasm 
than that of the peasant class, they had retained enough 
to dress it so as to cover their bald crowns. One of the 
maids, however, in religious fervour, had cut off so much 
that she had to postpone her marriage for three years; 
for no girl could marry with short hair. Not a man of 
those days would be brave enough to risk the ill omen of 
taking a bride with the cut hair of a widow. 

Our family did not belong to the Shin sect of Buddhists, 
but every woman, of whatever sect, wanted to have a 
part in the holy cause, so each of us added a few strands. 
The hair was taken to the building where the donations 
were kept and braided into long, thick ropes; then, just 
before the removal to Kyoto, all the gifts were dedicated 
with an elaborate religious celemony. 

It seemed to my childish mind that almost everybody in 
the world came to Nagaoka that day. Most certainly 


CURLY HAIR 


^3 


the near-by country district and all the neighbouring 
villa^s had emptied themselves into the narrow streets 
through which Ishi took me on our way to the temple. 
But at last we were stationed in a safe place and I stood 
holding tight to her hand and looking up wonderingly 
at the great shrine of gold-and-black lacquer which was 
placed high on an ox-cart just in front of the temple 
•entranfce. .The curving doors were wide open, showing 
the calm-faced Buddha standing with folded hands. 
Surrounding the base of the shrine, gradually widening 
and spreading above it, was a delicate framework repre- 
senting the “ five-caloured clouds of Paradise.” Many, 
many lotus blossoms of gold and silver, pink, purple, and 
orange twisted through the carved clouds and seemed to 
float in the air. It was wondrously beautiful. The 
two oxen, loaned by proud farmers for this occasion, 
were almost covered with strips of bright-coloured silk 
dangling in long, fluttering streamers from horns and 
harness. 

Suddenly there was a moment’s hush. Then with 
the returning sound of a multitude of voices mingled the 
beating of gongs and the shrill piping of temple music. 

“Look, Etsu-bo Sama!” said Ishi. “The sacred- 
Buddha is starting on the tour of appreciation. It is the 
first time in many years that the Holy One has come 
forth from the temple altar. To-day is a great day!” 

As the oxen strained and pushed against the big wooden 
yoke and the shrine with the gilded Buddha began to 
move, a low murmur of “Narmt Amida Butsu!” (Hail, 
Great Buddha!) breathed through the air. With deep 
reverence I bowed my head, and folding my hands to- 
gether, I, too, whispered the holy words. 

Two long twisted ropes t>f cloth, purple and white, 
were fastened to the front of the broad cart and reached 
far past the oxen to the chanting priests in front. These 



A DAUGHTER OF THE SAMURAI 

ropes were held by the eager hands of many men and boys, 
women and girls, some with babies on their backs/ and 
little children of all ages. I saw a playmate. «' 

“Ishi! Ishi!” I cried, so excited that I almost tore her 
sleeve. “There is Sadako San holding the rope ! Oh, may 
I walk beside her and hold the rope too? Oh, may I?” 

“Hush, little Mistress. You must not forget to be 
gentle. Yes, I will walk with you. Your Ijttle ^hands r 
shall help the holy Buddha.” 

And so we walked in the procession — Ishi and I. Never 
in my life, perhaps, shall I experience an hour more exalted 
than when we passed through those narrow streets behind 
the solemn, chanting priests, my hand clasped about the 
pulling cord of the great swaying, creaking cart, and my 
heart filled with awe and reverence. 

The services of dedication I recall very mistily. The 
new building was crowded with huge pyramids of do- 
nations of every kind. The shrine was carried in and 
placed before a purple curtain with a big swastika crest 
on it. There were marching, chanting priests in gorgeous 
robes with crystal rosaries around their folded hands. 
There was the fragrance of incense, the sound of soft 
temple drums, and everywhere low murmurs of “Namu 
Amida Butsu!” 

Only one thing in the great room stands clear in my 
memory. On a platform in front of the altar, with the 
holy Buddha just above, was the huge coil of jet-black 
rope — made of the hair of thousands of women. My 
mind went back to the day when I thought I was seeing so 
many widows in the street, and to our servants with their 
scanty hair dressed over bald crowns, and then, with a pang 
of humiliation, I recalled the day our own offering was 
sent; for beside the long, glossy straight wisps of my sister’s 
hair lay a shorter strand that curved into ugly mortifying 
waves.: : : • ^ 


CURLY HAIR ^ ^ 

Even after all these years I feel a bit of pity for the little 
girl who was myself when I remember how many bitter 
trials she had to endure because of her wavy hair. Curly 
hair was not admired in Japan, so although I was younger 
than my sisters, on hairdressing day, which came three 
times in ten days, I was placed in the care of the hair- 
dresser as soon as she came into the house. This was 
unusual, for the eldest should always be attended to first. 
Immediately after the shampoo, she saturated my hair 
with almost boiling hot tea mixed with some kind of 
stiffening oil. Then she pulled the hair back as tight as 
possible and tied it Thus I was left while she dressed 
the hair of my sisters. By that time my whole head was 
stiff and my eyebrows pulled upward, but my hair was 
straight for the time being, and could easily be arranged in 
the two shining loops tied with polished cord, which was 
the proper style for me. From the time I can remember 
I was always careful about lying quiet on my little wooden 
pillow at night, but by the next morning there were sure 
to be little twists at my neck and a suspicious curve in the 
loops on top of the head. How I envied the long, straight 
locks of the court ladies in the roll picture hanging in my 
room! 

One time I rebelled and used return words to my nurse, 
who was trying to comfort me during one of my “gluing- 
up” experiences. Kind old Ishi forgave me at once, 
but my mother overheard and called me to her room. 
1 was a little sullen, I remember, as I bowed and seated 
myself before her cushion, and she looked at me severely 
as she spoke. 

“Etsu-ko,” she said, “ do you not know that curly hair 
is like animal’s hair? A samurai’s daughter should not be 
willing to resemble a beast.”* 

I was greatly mortified and never again complained of 
the discomfort of hot tea and scented oil. 


14 A DAUGHTER OF THE SAMURAI 

ropes were held by the eager hands of many men and boys, 
women and girls, some with babies on their backsf and 
little children of all ages. I saw a playmate. » 

“Ishi! Ishi!” I cried, so excited that I almost tore her 
sleeve. “There is Sadako San holding the rope ! Oh, may 
I walk beside her and hold the rope too? Oh, may I?” 

“Hush, little Mistress. You must not forget to be 
gentle. Yes, I will walk with you. Your little%ands» 
shall help the holy Buddha.” 

And so we walked in the procession — Ishi and I. Never 
in my life, perhaps, shall I experience an hour more exalted 
than when we passed through those ngrrow streets behind 
the solemn, chanting priests, my hand clasped about the 
pulling cord of the great swaying, creaking cart, and my 
heart filled with awe and reverence. 

The services of dedication I recall very mistily. The 
new building was crowded with huge pyramids of do- 
nations of every kind. The shrine was carried in and 
placed before a purple curtain with a big swastika crest 
on it. There were marching, chanting priests in gorgeous 
robes with crystal rosaries around their folded hands. 
There was the fragrance of incense, the sound of soft 
temple drums, and everywhere low murmurs of “Namu 
Amida Butsu!” 

Only one thing in the great room stands clear in my 
memory. On a platform in front of the altar, with the 
holy Buddha just above, was the huge coil of jet-black 
rope — made of the hair of thousands of women. My 
mind went back to the day when I thought I was seeing so 
many widows in the street, and to our servants with their 
scanty hair dressed over bald crowns, and then, with a pang 
of humiliation, I recalled the day our own offering was 
sent; for beside the long, glossy straight wisps of my sister’s 
hair lay a shorter strand that curved into ugly mortifying 
waves. 


CURLY HAIR 


Even after all these years I feel a bit of pity for the little 
girl vrho v?as myself when I remember how many bitter 
trials she had to endure because of her wavy hair. Curly 
hair was not admired in Japan, so although I was younger 
than my sisters, on hairdressing day, which came three 
times in ten days, I was placed in the care of the hair- 
dresser as soon as she came into the house. This was 
jinusual, foy the eldest should always be attended to first. 
Immediately after the shampoo, she saturated my hair 
with almost boiling hot tea mixed with some kind of 
stiffening oil. Then she pulled the hair back as tight as 
possible and tied it. Thus I was left while she dressed 
the hair of my sisters. By that time my whole head was 
stiff and my eyebrows pulled upward, but my hair was 
straight for the time being, and could easily be arranged in 
the two shining loops tied with polished cord, which was 
the proper style for me. From the time I can remember 
I was always careful about lying quiet on my little wooden 
pillow at night, but by the next morning there were sure 
to be little twists at my neck and a suspicious curve in the 
loops on top of the head. How I envied the long, straight 
locks of the court ladies in the roll picture hanging in my 
room! 

One time I rebelled and used return words to my nurse, 
who was trying to comfort me during one of my “gluing- 
up” experiences. Kind old Ishi forgave me at once, 
but my mother overheard and called me to her room. 
1 was a little sullen, I remember, as I bowed and seated 
myself before her cushion, and she looked at me severely 
as she spoke. 

“Etsu-ko,” she said, “do you not know that curly hair 
is like animal’s hair.^ A samurai’s daughter should not be 
willing to resemble a beast.”* 

I was greatly mortified and never again complained of 
the discomfort of hot tea and scented oil. 


i6 A DATO THE SAMURAI 

Gn the day of my “seventh-year” celebration I ex- 
perienced a humiliation so deep that it still aches ifte to 
think of it. This celebration is a very important event 
in the life of a Japanese girl — as much so as her debut 
party is to an American young lady. All our woman 
relatives were invited to a great feast, where I, in a beau- 
tiful new gown, occupied the place of honour. My hair 
had been elaborately arranged, but the day was raifty and# 
I suppose some persistent small strands had escaped 
their stiff prison, for I overheard one of my aunts say, 
“It’s a shameful waste to put a beautiful dress on Etsu. 
It only attracts attention to her uglyf twisty hair.” 

How deeply a child can feel! I wanted to shrivel to 
nothingness inside the gown of which I had been so proud, 
but I looked straight ahead and did not move. The next 
moment, when Ishi came in with some rice and looked 
at me, I saw the pain in her eyes and I knew that she 
had heard. 

That night when she came to undress me she had not 
removed the little blue-and-white towel that all Japanese 
servantswear over the hairwhen at work. I was surprised, 
for it is not polite to appear before a superior with the 
head covered, and Ishi was always courteous. I soon 
found out the truth. She had gone to the temple as soon 
as the dinnerwas over, and cutting off her splendid straight 
hair, had placed it before the shrine, praying the gods to 
transfer her hair to me. My good Ishi ! My heart thanks 
her yet for her loving sacrifice. 

Who shall say that God did not pity the simple soul’s 
ignorant, loving effort to save from humiliation the child 
she loved? At any rate, her prayer was answered when 
in later years the hand of fate turned my steps toward a 
land where my curly hair no I&nger caused me either sorrow 
or shame. 



A DAUGHTER OF THE SAMURAI 


i6 

On the day of my “seventh-year” celebration I ex- 
perienced a humiliation so deep that it still aches Hie to 
think of it. This celebration is a very important event 
in the life of a Japanese girl — as much so as her debut 
party is to an American young lady. All our woman 
relatives were invited to a great feast, where I, in a beau- 
tiful new gown, occupied the place of honour. My hair 
had been elaborately arranged, but the day wa« raifty and* 
I suppose some persistent small strands had escaped 
their stiff prison, for I overheard one of my aunts say, 
“It’s a shameful waste to put a beautiful dress on Etsu. 
It only attracts attention to her uglyj> twisty hair.” 

How deeply a child can feel! I wanted to shrivel to 
nothingness inside the gown of which I had been so proud, 
but I looked straight ahead and did not move. The next 
moment, when Ishi came in with some rice and looked 
at me, I saw the pain in her eyes and I knew that she 
had heard. 

That night when she came to undress me she had not 
removed the little blue-and-white towel that all Japanese 
servants wear over the hair when at work. I was surprised, 
for it is not polite to appear before a superior with the 
head covered, and Ishi was always courteous. I soon 
found out the truth. She had gone to the temple as soon 
as the dinnerwas over, and cutting off her splendid straight 
hair, had placed it before the shrine, praying the gods to 
transfer her hair to me. My good Ishi ! My heart thanks 
her yet for her loving sacrifice. 

Who shall say that God did not pity the simple soul’s 
ignorant, loving effort to save from humiliation the child 
she loved? At any rate, her prayer was answered when 
in later years the hand of fate turned my steps toward a 
land where my curly hair no I&nger caused me either sorrow 
or shame. 



CHAPTER III 


m 


. DAYS OF KAN 

m • 

W E DID not have kindergartens when I was a 
child, but long before the time when I could have 
been admitted to the new “after-the-sixth-birthday” 
school, I had acquifed a goodly foundation for later study 
of history and literature. My grandmother was a great 
reader, and during the shut-in evenings of the long, snowy 
winters we children spent much time around her fire-box, 
listening to stories. In this way I became familiar, when 
very young, with our mythology, with the lives of Japan’s 
greatest historical personages and with the outline stories 
of many of our best novels. Also I learned much of the 
old classic dramas from Grandmother’s lips. My sister 
received the usual education for girls, but mine was 
planned along different lines for the reason that I was 
supposed to be destined for a priestess. I had been 
born with the navel cord looped around the neck like 
a priest’s rosary, and it was a common superstition in 
those days that this was a direct command from Buddha. 
Both my grandmother and my mother sincerely believed 
this, and since in a Japanese home the ruling of the house 
and children is left to the women, my father silently 
bowed to the earnest wish of my grandmother to have 
me educated for a priestess. He, however, selected for my 
teacher a priest whom he knew- — a very scholarly man, 
who spent little time in teaching me the forms of temple 
worship, but instructed me most conscientiously in the 
doctrine of Confucius. This was considered the foun- 


1 8 A DAUGHTER OF THE SAMURAI 

dation of all literary culture, and was believed by my 
father to be the highest moral teaching of the time. 

My teacher always came on the days of threes and 
sevens — ^that is, the third, seventh, thirteenth, seven- 
teenth, twenty-third, and twenty-seventh. This was in 
accordance with our moon-calendar custom of dividing 
days into groups of tens instead of sevens, as is done by the 
sun calendar. I enjoyed my lessons very much/ The 
stateliness of my teache/s appearance, the ceremony of 
his manner, and the rigid obedience required of me ap- 
pealed to my dramatic instinct. Then the surroundings 
were most impressive to my childish^ mind. The room 
was always made ready with especial care the day of my 
lessons, and when I entered, invariably I saw the same 
sight. I close my eyes now and all is as clear as if I had 
seen it but an hour ago. 

The room was wide and light and was separated from 
the garden porch by a row of sliding paper doors crossed 
with slender bars of wood. The black-bordered straw 
mats were cream-coloured with time, but immaculate 
in their dustlessness. Books and desk were there, and 
in the sacred alcove hung a roll picture of Confucius. 
Before this was a little teakwood stand from which rose a 
curling mist of incense. On one side sat my teacher, his 
flowing gray robes lying in straight, dignified lines about 
his folded knees, a band of gold brocade across his shoulder, 
and a crystal rosary round his left wrist. His face was 
always pale, and his deep, earnest eyes beneath the 
priestly cap looked like wells of soft velvet. He was the 
gentlest and the saintliest man I ever saw. Years after, 
he proved that a holy heart and a progressive mind can 
climb together, for he was excommunicated from the 
orthodox temple for advocating a reform doctrine that 
united the beliefs of Buddhism and Christianity, Whether 
through accident or . design, this broad-minded priest was 



DAYS OF KAN 


19 

the teacher chosen for me by my broad-minded though 
conservative father. 

My stedies were from books intended only for boys, 
as it was very unusual for a girl to study Chinese classics. 
My first lessons were from the “Four Books of Confucius.” 
These are: Daigaku — “Great Learning,” which teaches 
that the wise use of knowledge leads to virtue; Chuyo 
, — “The Unchanging Centre,” which treats of the un- 
alterableness of universal law; Kongo and Moshi — ^which 
consist of the autobiography, anecdotes, and sayings of 
Confucius, gathered by his disciples. 

I was only six years old, and of course I got not one idea 
from this heavy reading. My mind was filled with many 
words in which were hidden grand thoughts, but they 
meant nothing to me then. Sometimes I would feel 
curious about a half-caught idea and ask my teacher the 
meaning. His reply invariably was : 

“Meditation will untangle thoughts from words,” or 
“A hundred times reading reveals the meaning.” Once 
he said to me, “You are too young to comprehend the 
profoundly deep books of Confucius.” 

This was undoubtedly true, but I loved my lessons. 
There was a certain rhythmic cadence in the meaningless 
words that was like music, and I learned readily page 
after page, until I knew perfectly all the important pas- 
sages of the four books and could recite them as a child 
rattles off the senseless jingle of a counting-out game. 
Yet those busy hours were not wasted. In the years 
since, the splendid thoughts of the grand old philosopher 
have gradually dawned upon me; and sometimes when a 
well-remembered passage has drifted into my mind, the 
meaning has come flashing like a sudden ray of sunshine. 

My priest-teacher taught? these books with the same 
reverence that he taught his religion — that is, with all 
thought of worldly comfort put away. During my lesson 


22 


A DAUGHTER OF THE SAMURAI 


of a tree, from which I lifted a handful of perfectly pure, 
untouched snow, just from the sky. This I meltdH to 
mix for my penmanship study. I ought to hSve waded 
to get the snow myself, but — Ishi did it. 

Since the absence of bodily comfort meant inspiration 
of mind, of course I wrote in a room without a fire. Our 
architecture is of tropical origin; so the lack of the little 
brazier of glowing charcoal brought the temperature*^ down'- 
to that of outside. Japanese picture-writing is slow 
and careful work. I froze my fingers that morning without 
knowing it until I looked back and saw my good nurse 
softly crying as she watched my purplediand. The training 
of children, even of ray age, was strict in those days, and 
neither she nor I moved until I had finished my task. Then 
Ishi wrapped me in a big padded kimono that had been 
warmed and hurried me into my grandmother’s room. 
There I found a bowl of warm, sweet rice-gruel made by 
my grandmother’s own hands. Tucking my chilled knees 
beneath the soft, padded quilt that covered the sunken 
fire-box I drank the gruel, while Ishi rubbed my stiff hand 
with snow. 

Of course, the necessity of this rigid discipline was never 
questioned by any one, but I think that, because I was a 
delicate child, it sometimes caused my mother uneasiness. 
Once I came into the room where she and Father were 
talking. 

“Honourable Husband,” she was saying, “I am some- 
times so bold as to wonder if Etsu-bo’s studies are not 
a little severe for a not-too-strong child.” 

My father drew me over to his cushion and rested his 
hand gently on my shoulder. 

“We must not forget. Wife,” he replied, “the teaching 
of a samurai home. The lioness pushes her young over 
the cliff and watches it climb slowly back from the valley 
without one sign of pity, though her heart aches for the 



DAYS OF KAN 


23:, 

little creattire. So only can it' gain strength for its life 
worl?/’; 

Because I was having the training and studies of a boy 
was one of the reasons why my family got in the habit of 
calling me Etsu-bo, the termination ho being used for a 
boy^s name^ as ko is for a girl’s. But my lessons were not 
confined to those for a boy. I also learned all the domestic 
^ccom^plisl^ments taught my sisters — sewing, weaving, 
embroidery, cooking, flower-arranging, and the compli- 
cated etiquette of ceremonial tea. 

Nevertheless my life was not all lessons. I spent 
many happy hours^in play. With the conventional order 
of old Japan, we children had certain games for each 
season — the warm, damp days of early spring, the twilight 
evenings of summer, the crisp, fragrant harvest time, or the 
clear, cold, snow-shoe days of winter. And I believe 
I enjoyed every game we ever played — from the simple 
winter-evening pastime of throwing a threaded needle 
at a pile of rice-cakes, to see how many each of us could 
gather on her string, to the exciting memory contests with 
our various games of poem cards. 

We had boisterous games, too, in which a group — 
all girls, of course — ^would gather in some large garden 
or on a quiet street where the houses were hemmed in 
behind hedges of bamboo and evergreen. Then we would 
race and whirl in The Fox Woman from the Mountain” 
or ‘'"Hunting for Hidden Treasure”; we would shout and 
scream as we tottered around on stilts in the forbidden 
boy-game of ""Riding the High-stepping Bamboo Horse” 
or the hopping game of ""The One-legged Cripples.” 

But no outdoor play of our short summers nor any 
indoor game of our long winters was so dear to me as were 
stories. The servants knew* numberless priest tales and 
odd jingles that had come down by word of mouth from 
past generations, and Ishi, who had the best memory and 


A DAUGHTER OF THE SAMURAI 


H 

the readiest tongue of them all, possessed an unending 
fund of simple old legends. I don’t remember ever going 
to sleep without stories from her untiring €ps. The 
dignified tales of Honourable Grandmother were wonder- 
ful, and the happy hours I spent sitting, with primly folded 
hands, on the mat before her — for I never used a eushion 
when Grandmother was talking to me — have left lasting 
and beautiful memories. But with Ishi’s stories 'every-> 
thing was different. I listened to them, all warm and 
comfortable, snuggled up crookedly in the soft cushions 
of my bed, giggling and interrupting and begging for 
“just one more” until the unwelcome time would arrive 
when Ishi, laughing but stern, would reach over to my 
night lantern, push one wick down into the oil, straighten 
the other, and drop the paper panel. Then, at last, 
surrounded by the pale, soft light of the shaded room, I 
had to say good-night and settle myself into the kinoji, 
which was the proper sleeping position for every samurai 
girl. 

Samurai daughters were taught never to lose control of 
mind or body — even in sleep. Boys might stretch them- 
selves into the character dai, carelessly outspread; but 
girls must curve into the modest, dignified character 
kinoji, which means “spirit of control.” 



CHAPTER IV 


« * • THE OLD AND THE NEW 

I WAS about eight years old when I had my first taste 
of meat. For twelve centuries, following the intro- 
duction of the Buddhist religion, which forbids the kill- 
ing of animals, the Japanese people were vegetarians. 
In late years, however, both belief and custom have 
changed considerably, and now, though meat is not 
universally eaten, it can be found in all restaurants and 
hotels. But when I was a child it was looked upon with 
horror and loathing. 

How well I remember one day when I came home from 
school and found the entire household wrapped in gloom, 
I felt a sense of depression as soon as I stepped into the 
“shoe-off” entrance, and heard my mother, in low, solemn 
tones, giving directions to a maid. A group of servants at 
the end of the hall seemed excited, but they also were 
talking in hushed voices. Of course, since I had not yet 
greeted the family, I did not ask any questions, but I had 
an uneasy feeling that something was wrong, and it was 
very hard for me to walk calmly and unhurriedly down 
the long hall to my grandmother’s room. 

“Honourable Grandmother, I have returned,” I mur- 
mured, as I sank to the floor with my usual salutation. 
She returned my bow with a gentle smile, but she was 
graver than usual. She and a maid were sitting before 
the black-and-gold cabinet of the family shrine. They 
had a large lacquer tray with rolls of white paper on it and 



26 A DAUGHTER OF THE SAMURAI 

the maid was pasting paper over the gilded doors of the 
shrine. 

Like almost every Japanese home, ours had tVo shrines. 
In time of sickness or death, the plain wooden Shinto 
shrine, which honours the Sun goddess, the Emperor, and 
the nation, was sealed with white paper to guard it from 
pollution. But the gilded Buddhist shrine was kept wide 
open at such a time; for Buddhist gods give «comlbrt to* 
the sorrowing and guide the dead on their heavenward 
journey. I had never known the gold shrine to be sealed; 
and besides, this was the very hour for it to be lighted 
in readiness for the evening meal. That was always the 
pleasantest part of the day; for after the first helping of 
our food had been placed on a tiny lacquer table before 
the shrine, we all seated ourselves at our separate tables, 
and ate, talked and laughed, feeling that the loving hearts 
of the ancestors were also with us. But the shrine was 
closed. What could it mean? 

I remember that my voice trembled a little as I asked, 
“Honourable Grandmother, is— is anybody going to die?” 

I can see now how she looked — ^half amused and half 
shocked. 

“Little Etsu-ko,” she said, “you talk too freely, like a 
boy. A girl should never speak with abrupt unceremony.” 

“Pardon me. Honourable Grandmother,” I persisted 
anxiously; “but is not the shrine being sealed with the 
pure paper of protection?” 

“Yes,” she answered with a little sigh, and said nothing 
more. 

I did not speak again but sat watching her bent 
shoulders as she leaned over, unrolling the paper for the 
maid. My heart was greatly troubled. 

Presently she straightened 'up and turned toward me. 

“Your honourable father has ordered his household to 
eat flesh,” she said very slowly. “The wise physician 



THE OLD AND THE NEW 


n 

vvho follows the path of the Western barbarians has told 
him that the flesh of animals will bring strength to his 
weak bod}?, and also will make the children robust and 
clever like the people of the Western sea. The ox flesh 
is to be brought into the house in another hour and our 
d^ty is to protect the holy shrine from pollution. * 

That evening we ate a solemn dinner with meat in our 
soup; Sut rfo friendly spirits were with us, for both shrines 
were sealed. Grandmother did not join us. She always 
occupied the ssrat of honour, and the vacant place looked 
strange and lonely. That night I asked her why she had 
not come. * • 

“I would rather not grow as strong as a Westerner— 
nor as clever,” she answered sadly. “It is more becoming 
for me to follow the path of our ancestors.” 

My sister and I confided to each other that we liked the 
taste of meat. But neither of us mentioned this to any one 
else; for we both loved Grandmother, and we knew our 
disloyalty would sadden her heart. 

The introduction of foreign food helped greatly to break 
down the wall of tradition which shut our people away 
from the world of the West, but sometimes the change 
was made at a great cost. This could not be otherwise; 
for after the Restoration many samurai suddenly found 
themselves not only poor and at the same time separated 
entirely from the system that had given them support; 
but also, bound as firmly as ever by the code of ethics that 
for centuries had taught them utter contempt for money. 
The land was flooded, during those first years, with 
business failures; for many of these men were young, 
ambitious, and eager to experiment with new customs. 

Such a one was Mr. Toda, a friend and neighbour, who 
often came to shoot on our archery grounds with my 
father, or to take horseback rides with him in the moun- 
tains. I liked Mr. Toda very much, and could not under- 


28 A DAUGHTER OF THE SAMURAI 

stand why Grandmother seemed to feel that his ideas^were 
too progressive and informal. ^ 

One day when he and Father were having a game of 
archery, they stopped to argue about some business plan. 
I was near by, trying to ride on the back of my father’s 
big white dog, Shiro. After I had had a more severe 
tumble than usual, Mr. Toda picked me up and st^od me 
very near the grassy bank against which was® placed th<J 
large round target with its broad rings of black and white. 
Putting the big bow in front of me, he held my arms while 
I shot. The arrow struck the target. 

“Best done!” he shouted. “ You'^veill make a great 
warrior. Little Mistress! You are your father’s son, after 
all!” 

My father laughed as he told the story that night. I 
felt very proud, but Mother looked thoughtful and Grand- 
mother shook her head sadly. 

“Your honourable father trains you in so boy-like a 
manner,” she said turning to me, “that I fear fate must 
search long for your unfound husband. No genteel family 
wants an ungentle bride.” 

And so, even in our pleasant family, there was a con- 
tinual hidden battle between the old and the new. 

Mr. Toda was a man of independent thought, and after 
several vain attempts to adjust himself to new conditions 
and at the same time retain his dignity, he decided to 
throw dignity aside and engage in some business that 
would bring material results. This was just at the begin- 
ning of the talk about the strength-giving properties of 
foreign food. Since Mr. Toda owned a good-sized estate 
which at that time nobody would accept even as a gift, he 
converted it into a grass fjrm and sent to a far-away 
coast for some cattle. Then, with a few experienced men 
as assistants, he once more ventured into the business 
world; this time as a dairy man and a butcher. 



THE OLD AND THE NEW 


29 


The aristocratic family of Mr. Toda did not approve 
at alfof this new occupation; for in the old days, only eta 
(the outcast class) ever handled bodies from which life 
had gone. For a while almost everyone looked upon him 
with a sort of curious horror, but gradually faith in meat 
as a strengthening food gained ground, and the families 
who used it on their tables grew steadily in number. So 
^he buSinese prospered. 

The simpler part of his work — the selling of milk — was 
also successful, but it also had serious drawbacks. Most 
of the common people believed that cow’s milk would 
influence the nature of those who drank it, and on this 
subject they gossiped much.* We children heard from 
servants that Mrs. Toda’s new-born baby had a tiny horn 
on its forehead and that its fingers were clubbed together 
like cows’ hoofs. These tales were not true, of course. 
But fear has a strong influence on our lives for happiness 
or misery, and in the Toda household there was real and 
desperate anxiety about many trifling things. 

The majority of intellectual men of that day, though 
broad thinkers themselves, allowed the women of their 
families to remain narrow and ignorant; and so it was 
that the constant friction between the old and new ideas 
ended finally in a tragedy. The proud old grandmother of 
the Toda house, feeling keenly what in her eyes was 
disgrace to the family name, chose the only way to right 
a wrong that a helpless Japanese knows — sacrifice. If 
one must die for a principle, it is not hard to find a way; 
so one day the grandmother was laid to rest with the 
ancestors whose honour she had died to uphold. 

Mr. Toda was an unflinching man, who honestly believed 
that he was right in carrying out his progressive ideas, but 
to his mother’s silent protest Ke yielded. He sold his Ijusi- 
ness to a wealthy fish dealer, who steadily became wealthier, 
for the use of meat and milk constantly increased. 


30 A DAUGHTER OF THE SAMURAI 

The spacious grounds where Mr. Toda’s cattle had 
leisurely browsed were left vacant a long time.* We 
children on our way home from school used to peep 
fearfully through the cracks in the black board fence and 
talk in whispers as we gazed at the desolate land covered 
with coarse grass and tall weeds. We always, in some 
way, associated that lonely place with the wandering soul 
of Mrs. Toda, who by going on the unknown jourriby had 
accomplished what here she was helpless to do. 

One day my father came home and told us that Mr. 
Toda was now guard to a farmer landlord in an adjacent 
province. His good fortune was due*to the fact that, for 
several years after the Restoration, the new government 
had much trouble in handling its numerous, previously 
separately governed provinces, and there was much law- 
lessness everywhere. To the landlord of many small 
farms the Restoration was not the tragedy it was to the 
samurai, for Echigo was famous for its abundant rice 
crops, and farmer storehouses were often filled with 
treasure. But it was a common thing for desperate 
robbers to raid these storehouses and sometimes even to 
murder the owners. Wealthy farmers had to be guarded, 
and since the restrictions of feudal days, which had rigidly 
regulated the style of living of the various classes, no 
longer existed, those farmers could enjoy their riches with- 
out interference from the Government, and it became 
the fashion for them to hire ex-samurai — once their 
superiors — as guards. Partly on account of the dignity 
of their former station, which everyone of less honourable 
rank respected, and partly because of their skilled military 
training, the samurai were well fitted for this duty. 

In his new business Mr. Toda was treated as a sort of 
honourable policeman-guest? He received a good salary, 
always formally presented folded in white paper and 
labelled: “An appreciation tribute.” Of course, this 



THE OLD AND THE NEW 


51 


position could not be permanent; for government authority 
gradually penetrated even to our remote district and made 
the farmer* safe. 

We next heard that Mr. Toda had become a teacher in a 
test school of the newly organized public-school system. 
His associate teachers were mostly young men proud to 
be called progressive, and affecting a lofty disdain for the 
old cukure,of Japan. The old samurai was sadly out of 
place, but Ibeing of philosophical bent and not without a 
sense of humour, he got along very well until the Depart- 
ment of Education made a rule that no one should be 
accepted as a teaoher unless he held a normal-school 
diploma. To go through the required schooling and be 
examined by those whom he considered only conceited 
youths of shallow brain would have been too humiliating 
to a man of Mr. Toda’s age, learning, and culture. He 
refused and turned his attention to one of his most ele- 
gant accomplishments — penmanship. He made beautiful 
ideographs for the trade-marks so frequently seen on the 
curtains that hang from the eaves of Japanese shops. He 
also copied Chinese poems for folding-screens and roll 
pictures and even wrote inscriptions for the banners of 
Shinto shrines. 

Changes came to our family which separated us from the 
Todas, and it was several years before I learned that they 
had moved to Tokyo, Mr. Toda trusting with brave 
confidence that the new capital, with its advanced ideas, 
would treat him fairly. But, after all, he was a gentleman 
of feudal days, and the capital was overflowing with wild 
enthusiasm for everything new and supreme contempt for 
everything old. There was nowhere a place for him. 

One day, years after, while I was a schoolgirl in Tokyo, 
I was passing through a crowded street when my eyes were 
caught by a beautifully written sign: “Instructor in the 
Cultural Game of Go.” Between the strips of the lattice 



A DAUGHTER OF THE SAMURAI 


32 

door I saw Mr. Toda, sitting very straight with samurai 
dignity, teaching go, a sort of chess, to a number of new- 
rich tradesmen. They were men who had retisred, as our 
older people do, leaving their business to sons or heirs and 
devoting their time to practice in go, tea ceremony, or 
other cultural occupation. Mr. Toda looked aged and 
poor, but he still had his undaunted air and half-humorous 
smile. Had I been a man I should have gone i^i, bilt for a 
young girl to intrude on his game would have been too 
rude, so I passed on. 

Once more did I see him a few years later. Early one 
morning when I was waiting for a h(frse-car on a corner 
near an office building there passed an old man who had the 
slight droop of the left shoulder that always marks the 
man who once wore two swords. He went into the build- 
ing, in a moment reappearing in the cap and coat of a 
uniform, and taking his stand at the door, opened and 
closed it for the people passing in and out. It was Mr. 
Toda. A number of supercilious young clerks in smart 
European dress pushed hastily by without even a nod of 
thanks. It was the new foreign way assumed by so-called 
progressive youths. 

It is well for the world to advance, but I could not help 
thinking how, less than a generation before, the fathers 
of these same youths would have had to bow with their 
foreheads to the ground when Mr. Toda, sitting erect on 
his horse, galloped by. The door swung to and fro, and he 
stood with his head held high and on his lips the same half- 
humorous smile. Brave, unconquered Mr. Toda! He 
represented thousands of men of the past, who, havingnoth- 
ing to offer the new world except the wonderful but un- 
wanted culture of the old, accepted with calm dignity 
the fate of failure — but they' were all heroes! 



CHAPTER V 


FALLING LEAVES 

o 

T he day before Nagaoka’s last “Castle Sinking 
Celebration,” Kin took me to walk along the edge of 
the old castle moat. Years before, part of it had been 
levelled up, and was now occupied by neat little rice 
farms; but most of it was still only a marshy waste that 
was gradually being filled with rubbish from the town. In 
one place an angle of the wall projected out pretty far, 
forming a protected pond where was clustered a crowded 
mass of velvety lotus leaves. Kin said that the water 
of the moat used to be very deep and as clear as a mirror; 
and that, here and there, were large patches of lotus 
leaves, which, in the blooming season, looked like unevenly 
woven brocade with a raised pattern of white-and-pink 
blossoms. 

“What did the castle look like. Kin? I want to hear 
again,” I said, looking across the dykes to the ruined 
walls and piles of heaped-up stones on the top of the hill. 

“Like all castles, Etsu-bo Sama,” she replied, “except 
that this was ours.” 

It was not often that Kin’s gay spirits were sobered, but 
she stood gazing gravely across at the ruins, saying nothing 
more. 

I turned my face toward the hill and closed my eyes, 
trying to see, in my mind, the picture so often painted for 
me by the loyal lips of Jiya oi*Ishi. A great square mass of 
stone and plaster with narrow, white-barred windows and 
tiers of curving roofs artistically zig-zagging over each 


34 


A DAUGHTER OF THE SAMURAI 


other in such a manner that an object thrown from any 
corner would find an unobstructed path to the ground"; and 
high above the deep eaves and many-pointefl roofs, on 
each end of the curving roof-ridge, a bronze fish with up- 
lifted tail shining rich and dark in the sunshine. Below, 
at the base of the pine-topped dykes, slept in dark quietude 
the waters of the moat — called ^^the bottomless/^ by 
simple-hearted people — ^whose clear waters reflected the 
six-sided stones of the tortoise-back^^ wall. 

^^Come, Etsu-bo Sama, we must go."’ 

I opened my eyes with a jerk. Nothing of the picture 
was there except the dykes that once formed a protection 
from flying arrows and shooting spears, and now were only 
hilly, peaceful vegetable gardens. 

All of this ground beyond,” said Kin, with a wide 
sweep of her hand as we started toward home, was once 
covered with beautiful gardens of noble retainers whose 
mansions were gathered about the outer wall of the 
castle. Now all that beauty is crushed into hundreds 
of plain little farms; and some of them, like ours, are 
ploughed by the unused hands of vassals of the ^ancient 
glorious’!” 

Kin was quiet all the way home, and I walked soberly by 
her side, with my bright anticipations for the morrow’s 
celebration somewhat dampened. 

^‘Castle Sinking” is a term used in Japanese literature 
to describe the sublime desolation of the useless castle of a 
conquered people. The new government was both wise 
and generous in its endeavour to help its subjects adjust 
themselves to the puzzling situation which confronted 
them at the close of the war, but Nagaoka people were 
slow to forget. Many still believed that to have dragged 
the god-descended Emperor from his palace of holiness 
and peace, only to plunge him into a material world of 
sordid duties, was sacrilege; and that the failure of the 



FALLING LEAVES 


IS. 

shrfgun power to march steadily on its rightful way was a 
sorrcTwful thing' for Japan. 

I was ixTany years younger than the time of the Res« 
toration, but its memories were with me all through my 
childhood, for I was born not so long after those years of 
desolation and bitterness but that the everyday talk of 
the town was of the awful days that had left so many 
homes*witLout a master. In my babyhood I heard war- 
songs as frequently as lullabies, and half of my childhood 
stories were tales of heroes on the battlefield. From the 
gateway of my home could be seen the ruined walls and 
half-filled moat of •he castle, our godowns were filled to 
the roof with weapons and belongings of my father^s 
retainers, and I scarcely ever went on to the street that I 
did not meet some old person who, as I passed, would 
stand humbly aside, bowing and bowing, with respectful 
and tearful murmurings of the ‘^glories of the past.^’ Ah 
me! Death had stepped many times between the strain 
of those days and the hesitating progress of my childhood^s 
time, and yet the old spirit of dutiful loyalty to the over- 
lord was not yet quenched. 

May 7, 1869, was the day on which all power was re- 
moved from Nagaoka castle by the new Government, and 
after the bitterness of the first few years had passed, the 
anniversary of that day was always observed by the 
samurai families of the town. To the newcomers and to 
the tradespeople, the celebration was only an interesting 
episode, but to those who took part it was a tribute to the 
dying spirit of chivalry. The morning after my walk with 
Kin by the castle moat, I wakened with an excited feeling 
that something was going to happen. And indeed, it 
was a day of busy happenings! For breakfast everybody 
ate black rice — rice husked But not whitened, such as is 
used by soldiers during the haste of battle marches— and 
in the afternoon a sham battle was held on Yukuzan 


36 A DAUGHTER OF THE' SAMURAT 

plamv back shrine- dedicated ' to the Nagaoka 

daimios* ; , V , 

What a gay assemblage there was that day^ Most of 
the aristocracy were poor and much of their valuable 
armour had been disposed of, but eveiybody had retained 
some, and each one appeared in what he had. I can even 
now see the procession as it started, with my father as 
leader. He sat very straight on his horse, and, \o my 
childish eyes, looked very grand in his cloth garment with 
close-wrist sleeves and bloomer-like skirt, over which 
rattled and clanged the lacquer-scaled breastplate with 
its cross-stitching of silk cord and its great gold crest. 
Of course, his own horse was gone, as well as its elaborate 
trappings, but Mother^s ingenuity had decorated a plain 
harness with cords and tassels twisted from strips of silk, 
thus transforming a tenant^s farm horse into somewhat 
the appearance of a war steed; and in place of the swords 
Father was no longer allowed to carry, he wore two sharp- 
ened bamboos stuck through his sash. A great crowd 
of people gathered by the stone bridge at the end of the 
town to see the little army start out. The spectators had 
clothed themselves as far as they could in ancient dress, 
and as they waited, the men all sitting with crossed legs in 
warrior fashion, they made a courageous-looking company. 

Then the drum sounded, and my father raised his 
saihai — a stick with dangling papers which his ancestors 
had carried to guide their followers — and rode away, 
followed by a long train of men in armour as for war. 
They crossed the fields, climbed the mountain, and, after 
each warrior had made salutation at the temple, they 
gathered on the plain for the battle, following it with an 
exhibition in archery, fencing, spear-throwing, and athletic 
sports of various kinds. 

Our men servants went to Yukuzan plain to watch the 
sports, but the women were busy all day preparing for the 


FALLING LEAVES 


37 


home-coming. Straw mats were spread ' on the grass'' and 
many fires were kindled in the garden over which, tied to 
a tripod of strong branches, swung large iron kettles hold- 
ing game seasoned with miro, which with bran-rice forms 
the food of soldiers in camp. About twilight the little 
army came riding back. We children, dressed in our best 
attircj^ ran out to the big gateway and waited between the 
two tall lantern stands with the welcoming lights. When 
Father saw us he opened his iron war-fan and swung it 
back and forth, as one would wave a handkerchief in 
greeting, and we bowed and bowed in reply. 

“Your honourable father looks to-day as he used to look 
in the prosperous time,"’ said Mother, half sadly, “and I 
am thankful that you, his daughter, have seen him so.” 

The men piled their heavy regalia in a corner of the 
garden, and sat around the kettles, eating and laughing 
with the freedom of camp life. Father did not change 
his clothes, except to throw back his war hat, where it 
hung by its silk cord, encasing him, front and back, in two 
Inagaki crests; ^‘^thus boldly identifying myself to both 
friends and enemies,” he said, laughing. Then, sitting 
on a high garden stone, he told war stories to us children, 
as we crowded close to each other on a straw mat before 
him. 

That was our last celebration in memory of the castle 
•sinking of Nagaoka. On the next May 7th the plain was 
flooded from a drenching downpour, and the year follow- 
ing, Father was in ill health. The men did not care for 
the sports without their old lord as leader, so the cele- 
bration was postponed to a day that never came. 

Father never entirely recovered from the effects of the 
hard years of the Restoration. Each one as it passed 
left him looking less like the sturdy, ambitious youth — for 
he was only thirty at that time — who had held the reins of 
excited Nagaoka during those desperate days, but his 


38 A DAUGHTER OF THE SAMURAI 

brave, cheerful spirit remained unchanged. Even through 
the first erratic years of Japan’s struggle to gain a foothold 
in the new world, when people were recklessly throwing 
olF the old and madly reaching out for the new, Father had 
gone on his way, calm and unexcited. He held, with the 
most progressive men of his day, a strong belief in the 
ultimate success of Japan’s future, but — and in ^his he 
received little sympathy — he also retained a Seep rever- 
ence for the past. Father, however, was much liked, and 
he generally could turn aside undesirable comments or 
lengthy arguments by the aid of a keen sense of humour, 
which had a way of breaking through his stateliness and 
dignity like a gleam of unexpected sunshine; and so, with- 
out title or power, he held, as of old, his place as leader. 

One autumn day, Father’s physician, who was a very 
progressive man and as much friend as physician, sug- 
gested that Father should go to Tokyo and consult some 
doctors of a new hospital renowned for its successful use of 
Western methods. Father decided to go, and of course he 
took Jiya with him. 

With Father and Jiya both gone, I was desolate. I 
still feel the heart-pull of those lonely days. Sister was 
preparing for her marriage, which was to take place in the 
fall, and her time was taken up with many things. I 
don’t know what I should have done but for my good 
Shiro, who was equally lonely with me. Shiro really 
belonged to me, but of course I never called him mine, for 
it was considered rough and unladylike for a girl to own a 
dog. But I was allowed to play with him, and every day, 
as soon as my lessons were over, we would wander around 
together. One day we had visited the archery ground and 
were on the long walk where JFather liked to trudge up and 
down for exercise, when suddenly Shiro galloped away 
from me toward a little house just within the gateway, 
where Jiya lived alone. Jiya’s wife had died before I 



FALLING LEAVES 


39 

cojlid remember, but he was a capable housekeeper, and 
any afternoon during the summer that I might go to his 
neat porcH I would find a square lacquer box holding the 
most delicious things that a little girl could possibly want 
to eat between meals — a sweet potato baked in ashes and 
sprinkled with salt; or some big, brown chestnuts baked 
until their jackets had burst, disclosing the creamy richness 
of the'daiilty that was waiting for my fingers. 

I hurried after Shiro and found him pushed close against 
the porch, his tail wagging and his nose eagerly sniffing in 
the corner where the lacquer box used to stand. 

“Oh, no, no, ShTro!” I mournfully said. “The lac- 
quer box is gone. Jiya is gone. Everybody is gone.” 

I sat down on the edge of the porch and Shiro snuggled 
his cold nose into my long sleeve. We were two as dis- 
consolate creatures as could be found, and as I buried my 
hand in his rough white fur, I had to struggle hard to re- 
member that a samurai’s daughter does not cry. 

Suddenly I recalled the saying, “To unreasonably relax 
is cowardice.” I bounded up. I talked to Shiro. I 
played with him. I even ran races with him in the 
garden. When at last I returned to the house I had 
reason to suspect that the family felt disapproval of my 
wild conduct, but because I was all dearness to my father 
I escaped reproof for his sake. Everyone had a tender 
heart in those days; for the heaviness of dread was 
upon us all. 

One day Shiro fell sick, and would eat nothing I put into 
his bowl. I had a childish feeling that if he would eat he 
would get well, but that day happened to be the death 
anniversary of an ancestor, and was therefore a day of 
fasting. We had only vegetables for dinner, and so there 
were no good scraps for Shiro. As always when in trouble, 
I went to Ishi. She knew we ought not to handle fish on a 
fast day, but she pitied my anxiety and smuggled me some 



A DAUGHTER OF THE SAMURAI 


fish bones from somewhere. I took them to a distant fiart 
of the garden and crushed them between two flat stones. 
Then I mixed them with bean soup from the kitchen and 
took them to the kindling shed where Shiro was lying 
on his straw mat. Poor Shiro looked grateful, but he 
would not get up; and thinking that perhaps he was cold, 
I ran to my room and brought my crepe cushion tp cover 
him. * 

When this became known to my grandmother, she sent 
for me to come to her room. The moment I lifted my 
face after bowing I knew this was not one of the times 
when I was to be entertained with street bean-cake. 

“Little Etsu-ko,” she said (she always called me 
“Etsu-ko” when she spoke sternly), “I must speak to 
you of something very important. I am told that you 
wrapped Shiro with your silk cushion.” 

Startled at her tone, I meekly bowed. 

“Do you not know,” she went on, “that you are guilty 
of the utmost unkindness to Shiro when you do inappro- 
priate things for him?” 

I must have looked shocked and puzzled, for she spoke 
very gently after that, explaining that since white dogs 
belong to the order next lower than that of human beings, 
my kindness might postpone for another lifetime Shiro’s 
being born in human shape. 

According to transmigration belief, the boundary line 
between the orders of creation must be strictly maintained. 
If we place an animal above its proper position we may 
prevent its advance in the next incarnation. Every 
devout Buddhist is absolutely submissive to Fate, for he 
is taught that hardship in his present life is either the 
atonement for sins committed in the last existence, or 
the education necessary to prepare him for a higher place 
in the life to come. This belief has held Japan’s labour- 
ing class in cheerful resignation through ages of hardship. 



FALLING LEAVES 


,41: 

butMso it has taught us to look with such mdiffereuce 
upon^the sufferings of creatures below us in the order of 
creation th^at we have become, as a nation, almost sym- 
pathy-blind. 

As quickly as possible to be polite, I thanked my grand- 
mother and hurried to beg Shiro^s pardon. I found him 
covered very comfortably with a matting of soft rice-straw 
suitable to«^his station. Out in the garden two coolies 
were engaged in burning the crepe cushion. Their faces 
were very grave. 

Poor Shiro! He had the best care we could give him, 
but the next morniifg his body was asleep under the straw 
matting and his spirit had passed on to the next state, 
which I pray was not lower because of my kindly meant 
mistake. He was buried in the sunniest corner of the 
garden beneath a big chestnut tree where many an autumn 
morning he and I had happily tossed and caught the fallen 
brown nuts. It would never have done for Shiro^s grave 
to be publicly marked, but over it my father quietly 
placed, on his return, a small gray stone, in memory of his 
little girl’s most faithful vassal. 

Alas! Before the chestnut burrs were spilling their 
brown nuts over Shiro’s grave, my dear father had been 
laid to rest in the family burial ground at Chokoji, and 
one more tablet had been placed in the gilded shrine before 
which every morning and evening we bowed in love and 
reverence. 



CHAPTER VI 


A SUNNY NEW YEAR 

O URS was a lonely house the winter aft^r Father’s 
death. The first forty-nine days when ^^the soul 
hovers near the eaves” was not sad to me, for the con- 
stantly burning candles and curling incense of the shrine 
made me feel that Father was near. And, too, everyone 
was lovingly busy doing things in the name of the 
dear one; for to Buddhists, death is a journey, and during 
these seven weeks. Mother and Jiya hastened to fulfil 
neglected duties, to repay obligations of all kinds and to 
arrange family affairs so that, on the forty-ninth day, 
the soul, freed from world shackles, could go happily on 
its way to the Land of Rest. 

But when the excitement of the busy days was over and, 
excepting at the time of daily service, the shrine was dark, 
then came loneliness. In a childish, literal way, I thought 
of Father as trudging along a pleasant road with many 
other pilgrims, all wearing the white robes covered with 
priestly writings, the pilgrim hats and straw sandals in 
which they were buried — and he was getting farther and 
farther from me every day. 

As time passed on we settled back into the old ways, but 
it seemed that everybody and everything had changed. 
Jiya no longer hummed old folk-songs as he worked and 
Ishi’s cheerful voice had grown so lifeless that I did not 
care for fairy tales any mor^e. Grandmother spent more 
time than ever polishing the brass furnishings of the 
shrine. Mother went about her various duties, calm and 




43 


During these months^ my greatest pleasure was going to the temple with Mother, Toshi^ 
the maid^ always walked behind^ carrying flowers for the grave. 



A SUNNY NEW YEAR 


45 

quiot as usual, but her smile was sad. Sister and I sewed 
and tead together, but we no longer wasted time in 
giggling ami eating sweets. And when in the evening we 
all gathered around the fire-box in Grandmother’s room, 
our conversation was sure to drift to mournful topics. 
Even in the servants’ hall, though talking and laughter 
still mingled with the sounds of spinning and grinding of 
rice, th!fe spirit of merriment was gone. 

During these months my greatest pleasure was going to 
the temple with Mother or Ishi. Mother’s special maid, 
Toshi, always walked behind, carrying flowers for the 
graves. We went fk-st to the temple to bow our respects to 
the priest, my much-honoured teacher. He served us tea 
and cakes and then went with us to the graves, a boy 
priest going along to carry a whitewood bucket of water 
with a slender bamboo dipper floating on the top. We 
made bows to the graves and then, in respect to the dead, 
poured water from the little dipper over the base of the 
tall gray stones. So loyal to the past are the people of 
Nagaoka that, many years after my father’s death, I heard 
my mother say that she had never visited his grave when 
she had not found it moist with “memory-pourings” of 
friends and old retainers. 

On February 15th, the “Enter into Peace” celebration 
of Buddha’s death, I went to the temple with Toshi, carry- 
ing as a gift to the priest a lacquer box of little dumplings. 
They were made in the shapes of all the animals in the 
world, to represent the mourners at Buddha’s death-bed, 
where all living creatures were present except the cat. 
The good old priest, after expressing his thanks, took a 
pair of chopsticks and, lifting several of the dumplings on 
to a plate, placed it for a few minutes in front of the 
shrine, before putting it away for his luncheon. That day 
he told me with deep feeling that he must say farewell, 
since he was soon to go away from Chokoji for ever. I 


46 A DAUGHTER OF THE SAMURAI 

could not understand, then, why he should leave, the 
temple where he had been so long and which he so dearly 
loved; but afterward I learned that, devout and faithful 
though he was to all the temple forms, his brain had 
advanced beyond his faith, and he had joined the “Army 
of the Few” who choose poverty and scorn for the sake 
of what they believe to be the truth. 

One evening, after a heavy snowfall. Grandmother and 
I were sitting cozily together by the fire-box in her room. 
I was making a hemp-thread ball for a mosquito net that 
was to be woven as part of my sister’s wedding dowry, 
and Grandmother was showing me hc^vv to put my fingers 
deftly through the fuzzy hemp. 

“Honourable Grandmother,” I exclaimed, suddenly 
recalling something I wanted to say, “I forgot to tell you 
that we are going to have a snow-fight at school to-morrow. 
Hana San is chosen to be leader on one side and I on the 
Other. We are to— — ” 

I was so interested that again I lost my thread and it 
matted. I gave it a quick jerk and at once found myself in 
sad trouble. 

“Wait!” said Grandmother, reaching out to help me. 
“You should sing ‘The Hemp-Winding Song.’” As she 
straightened my tangled thread, her quavery old voice sang: 

“Watch your hand as it winds hemp thread; 

If it mats, with patience wait; 

For a thoughtless move or a hasty pull 
Makes smaller tangles great.” 

“Don’t forget again!” she added, handing back the 
untangled bunch of hemp. 

“I was thinking about the snow-fight,” I said apologeti- 
cally. 

Grandmother looked disapproving. “Etsu-bo,” she 
said, “your eldest sister, before she was married, made 



A SUNNY NEW, YEAR' 


47. 

enoi%h hemp ■ thread ^ both the mosquito nets for her 
destined home. You have now entered your eleventh 
■year, and snould aim to be more 'maidendike in your 
tastes/’ ■ 

■ ' *^Yes, Honourable Grandmother,’^ I replied,, feeling 
with humiliation how true her words were. /'^This winter 
, I will' ^dnd ^ plenty of hemp thread. I will make many 
balls, so IsEi can weave the two nets for Sister’s dowry 
before New Year’s.” 

‘‘There is no need for such haste,” Grandmother re- 
plied, smiling at rgy eagerness, but speaking gravely. 
“Our days of sorrow must not influence your sister’s fate. 
Her marriage has been postponed until the good-luck 
season when the ricefields bow with their burden.” 

I had noticed that fewer shop men had been coming to 
the house, and I had missed the frequent visits of tall Mr. 
Nagai and his brisk, talkative little wife, the go-between 
couple for my sister. So that was what it meant! Our 
unknown bridegroom would have to wait until autumn 
for his bride. Sister did not care. There were plenty of 
things to be interested in and we both soon forgot all 
, about the delayed w^edding in our preparations for the 
approaching New Year. 

The first seven days of the first month were the im- 
portant holidays of the Japanese year. Men in pleated 
skirts and crest coats made greeting calls on the families 
of their friends, where they w’ere received by hostesses 
in ceremonious garments who entertained them with 
most elaborate and especial New Year dishes; little 
boys held exciting battles in the sky wdth w'^onderful 
painted kites having knives fastened to their pulling cords; 
girls in new sashes tossed gay, feathery shuttlecocks:'; 
back and forth or played poem cards with their brothers ' 
and brothers’ friends, in the only-. sociahgatherings of the;: ' 
year where boys and girls met together. Even babies 


48 A DAUGHTER OF THE SAMURAI ' 

had a part in this holiday time, for each wee ong'^had 
another , birthday on New Year’s Day— thi^s ■ suddenly 

■ being ushered into its second year before the ' first ■ had 
scarcely begun. 

■ Our family festivities that year were few; but ; our 
sorrow was not allowed to darken too much the atmos- 
phere' of New Year, and - for the first time since father’s; 
death we heard sounds of merriment in Aie kitchen. 
With the hot smell of steaming rice and the ^^Ton-g— 
click! Ton-g — click!” of morAf-pounding were mingled 
the voices of Jiya and Ishi in the olc^song, ^‘The Mouse 
in the House of Plenty,” which always accompanies the 
making of the oldest food of Japan — the rice-dough called' 
mochu 

are the messengers of the Good-luck god, 

The merry messengers. 

We^re a hundred years old, yet never have heard 
The fearful cry of cat; 

For we’re the messengers of the Good-luck god, 

The merry messengers.” 

About two days before New Year, Ishi came into the 
kitchen looking for me. I was sitting on a mat with 
Taki, who was here to help for New Year time, and we 
were picking out round beans from a pile in a low, flat 
basket. They were the stones of health” with which 
the demons of evil were to be pelted and chased away 
on New Year’s Eve. Jiya, in ceremonious dress, would 
scatter them through the house, closely followed by Taki, 
Ishi, and Toshi, with Sister and Etsu-bo running after, 
all vigorously sweeping, pushing, tossing, and throwing; 
and while the rolling beans went flying across the porches 
into the garden or on to the walks, our high-pitched voices 
would merrily sing, over and over: 

‘‘Good luck within ! 

Evil, go out! Out!” 


A SUNNY NEW YEAR 


49 ^ 

Is?li had some errands to do and Mother had said' that 
I might g<^,'with lier to see the gay sights.. How. well 
remember that . wonderful . sunshiny winter '..day ! , "We 
crossed the streets on paths cut be'tween walls ■ of frozen 
snow only three feet deep; for we had but little early snow 
' that winter, and no tunnels "were m,ade until after Nem^ 
^Year. iTrhe sidewalk , panels w'ere dowm in some places, 
just , like summer time, and the shops seem,ed very light 
with the' sky showing. On each side, of every doorway 
stood a pine tree, and stretched above w^as a Shinto rope ' 
with its ragged tuf^s and dangling zig-zag papers. Most 
of the shops on that street vrere small, with open fronts, 
and we could plainly see the sloping tiers of shelves laden 
with all the bright attractions of the season. In front of 
every shop was a crowd, many of the people having come 
from near-by villages, for the weather had been unusual, 
and Nagaoka had hopefully laid in a supply of New Year 
goods that would appeal to the simple taste of our country 
people. 

To me, many of the sights, familiar though they were, 
had, in the novelty of their surroundings, the excitem.ent 
and fascination of a play. At one place, w'hen Ishi stopped 
to get something, I watched a group of ten- or twelve-year- 
old boys, some with babies on their backs, clattering along 
on their high, rainy-day clogs. They stopped to buy a 
candy ball made of puffed rice and black sugar, w^Hcli 
they broke, each taking a piece and not forgetting to stuff 
some scraps in the mouths of the babies that were awake. 
They were low-class children, of course, to eat on the 
street, but I could taste that delicious sweet myself, as 
my eyes followed them to the next shop, wherethey pushed' ' 
and jostled themselves through a crowd toward a: display ■ 
of large kites painted with dragons' and actors*- m 
that would look truly fearful gazing down' from^ , A^ 

In some places young girls were gathered ' about shops ;, 


A DAUGHTER OF THE SAMURAI 


50 

whose shelves held rows of woOden dogs with b^fght- 
coloured toe-thongs; or where, beneath low eaves, swung 
long straw cones stuck full of New Year hairpins, gay with 
pine leaves and plum blossoms. There were, of course, 
many shops which sold painted battledores and long split 
sticks holding rows of five or ten feathery shuttlecocks of 
all colours. The biggest crowds of all were in J^ont of 
these shops, for nobody was too poor or too Husy to play 
hane on New Year days. 

That was a wonderful walk, and I’ve always been glad 
I took it, for it was the only time I rerjjember of my child- 
hood when we had sunshiny streets at New Year time. 

Notwithstanding our quiet house, the first three days 
of the New Year Mother was pretty busy receiving calls 
from our men kinsfolk and family friends. They were 
entertained with every-vegetable soup, with mwo-stuffed 
salmon, fried bean-curd, seaweed of a certain kind, and 
frozen gelatin. Mochi, as a matter of course, was in 
everything, for mochi meant “happy congratulations” 
and was indispensable to every house during New Year 
holidays. With the food was served a rice-wine called 
toso-sake, which was rarely used except on certain natal . 
occasions and at New Year time. Toso means “fountain 
of youth,” and its significance is that with the new year, a 
new life begins. 

The following days were more informal. Old retainers 
and old servants called to pay respect, and always on 
one day during the season Mother entertained all the 
servants of the house. They would gather in the large 
living room, dressed in their best clothes. Then little 
lacquer tables with our dishes laden with New Year 
dainties were brought in an4 the rice served by Sister and 
myself. Even Mother helped. There were Taki, Ishi, 
Toshi, and Kin, with Jiya and two menservants, and all 
behaved with great ceremony. Kin, who had a merry 


A SUNNY NEW YEAR 


1 :^;: 

Iiear% ^ would sometimes mak^ for all by rather timidly 
' imitating ■ 'jVlother's stately ' manner. Mother always 
-smiled with dignified good nature, but Sister and I had to. 
quench our merriment, for we, were endeavouring : to 
emulate Kin and Toshi in our deep bows' and respectful 
manners. It was all very formally informal and most 
■'...delightl’uL ^ 

On these occasions, Mother sometimes invited a carpen- 
ter, an old man who was always treated in our family as a 
sort of minor retainer. In old Japan, a good carpenter 
included the profe^ion of architect, designer, and interior 
decorator as well as of a worker in wood, and since this 
man was known in Nagaoka as ^‘Master Goro Beam^^ — 
the complimentary title of an exceptionally clever and 
skilful master-carpenter — and, in addition, was the de- 
scendant of several generations of his name, he was much 
respected. I was very fond of Goro. He had won my 
heart by making for me a beautiful little doll-house with 
a ladder-like stairway. It was my heart’s pride during 
all the paper-doll years of my life. On the first New Year’s 
Day that Goro came after Father’s death, he seemed quiet 
and sad until Mother had served him toso-sake; then he 
brightened up and grew talkative. In the midst of the 
feast he suddenly paused and, lifting his toso-sake cup 
very respectfully to the level of his forehead, he bowed 
politely to Mother, who was sitting on her cushion just 
within the open doorway of the next room. 

^^Honourable Mistress,” he began, ‘"'when your gateway 
had the pine decoration the last time, and you graciously 
entertained me like this, my Honourable Master was 
here.” 

^■‘Yes, so he was,”' Mother replied with a sad ' Smile./ 
“‘^Things have changed, Goro.” 

ever possessed wit,” Goro went on., 
^^No ill-health or ill-fortune . could dull his brain or his 


A . DAUGHTER OF ■ THE SAMURAI 


:S2 

tonguev; ,' It':W in the midst of your' gracious hospi|:^lity^ 
Honourable. Mistress^ that Honourable Masterentered the 
room and assured us ail that we were received with agree- 
able v/elcome. I had composed a humble poem of the kind 
that calls for a reply to. make it complete; and was so bold 
as to repeat it to Honourable .Master with the request that 
he honour me with closing words. My poem, as ,]suitable 
for a New Year greeting, was a wish for goofi luck, good 
health, and good will to this honourable mansion. 

“The Seven — ^the Good-fortune gods — 

Encircle this house with safely-lotked hands; 

And nothing can pass them by. 

'^Then Honourable Master and Goro deeply bowed 
— '^with a wrinkle of fun on his lips, and a twinkle of fun 
in his eyes, replied as quickly as a flash of light: 

“Alas! and alas! Then from this house 
The god of Poverty can never escape; 

But must always stay within.” 

Goro enjoyed his joke-poem so much that Mother united 
her gentle smile with the gay laughter of his companions 
who were always ready to applaud any word spoken in 
praise of the master they had all loved and revered. 

But bright-eyed Kin whispered to Ishi and Ishi smiled 
and nodded. Then Taki and Toshi caught some words 
and they, too, smiled. Not until afterward did I know 
that Kin's whisper was: 

“The gods of Poverty are sometimes kind. 

They’ve locked their hands with the Good-luck gods 
And prisoned joy within our gates.” 

Thus lived the spirit of democracy in old Japan. 


CHAPTER Vri 




THE WEDDING THAT NEVER WAS 

T he ple!isant days of New Year barely lasted through 
the holidays. We usually left the mochi cakes on the 
tokonoma until the fifteenth, but it was everywhere the 
custom to remove the pines from the gateways on the 
morning of the eigh^ch day. There was a tradition ('which 
nobody believed, however) that during the seventh night 
the trees sink into the earth, leaving only the tips visible 
above the ground. Literally, this was true that year, for 
when we wakened on the morning of the eighth, I found 
the three-foot paths filled and our whole garden a level 
land of snow about four feet deep. Our low pines at the 
gateway were snowed under, and we saw nothing more of 
them until spring. 

Every coolie in Nagaoka was busy that day, for the 
snow was unexpected and heavy. More followed, and in 
a few weeks we children were going to school beneath 
covered sidewalks and through snow tunnels; and our 
beautiful New Year was only a sunshiny memory. 

One afternoon, as I was coming home from school, a 
postman, in, his straw coat and big. straw snow-shoes,, ' 
came slipping down through a tunnel opening, from the 
'.snowy plain above. ^ ' 

‘^Maa ! Little' Mistress,” he called gaily, when he saw 
me, have mail for your house from America.” 

^^From America!”,! exclaimed,, greatly surprised; for a 
letter from a foreign land had never come to us before. It 
was: ■!. tried to keep the : pGstman in ' 


A DAUGHTER OF THE SAMURAI 


54 

sight as he hurried along the narrow walk betwee^ the 
snow wall and the row of open-front shops. Occasionally 
he, would call out “A message!'" — -^^A me^ageT" and stop 
to put mail into an outstretched hancW The path was 
narrow and I frequently was jostled by passing peoplej 
but I was not far behind the postman when he turned into 
our street. I knew he would go to the side entraijce with 
the mail; so I hurried very fast and had reached Grand- 
mother's room and already made my bow of “I have come 
back/' before a maid entered with the mail. The wonder- 
ful letter was for Mother, and Grandmother asked me to 
carry it to her. 

My heart sank with disappointment; for my chance to 
see it opened was gone. I knew that, as soon as Mother 
received it, she would take it at once to Grandmother, but 
I should not be there. Then Grandmother would look 
at it very carefully through her big horn spectacles and 
hand it back to Mother, saying in a slow and ceremonious 
manner, Please open 1 " Of course she would be agitated, 
because it was a foreign letter, but that would only make 
her still more slow and ceremonious. I could see the 
whole picture in my mind as I walked through the hall, 
carrying the big, odd-shaped envelope to Mother's room. 

That evening after family service before the shrine. 
Grandmother kept her head bowed longer than usual. 
When she raised it she sat up very straight and announced 
solemnly, with the most formal dignity, almost like a 
temple service, that the young master, who had been in 
America for several years, was to return to his home. This 
was startling news, for my brother had been gone almost 
since I could remember and his name was never mentioned. 
To call him the "'young master" was sufficient explanation 
that the unknown tragedy was past, and he reinstated in 
his position as a son. The servants, sitting in the rear 
of the room, bowed to the floor in silent congratulation. 



THE WEDDING THAT NEVER WAS , 55 

but iJiey seemed to be struggling 'with' suppressed; excite* 
ment, ^clid not stop to wonder^ why. It was: enough 
for me to know that my brother was' coming home. I 
could scarcely hold the joy in my heart. 

I must have been very young when my brother went 
away^ for though I could distinctly recall the day he Ieft> 
all megiory of what went before or came immediately 
after was mm. I remember a sunny morning, when our 
house was decorated with wondrous beauty and the 
servants all wore ceremonial dress with the Inagaki crest. 
It was the day of brother’s marriage. In the tokonoma 
of our best room was one of our treasures — a triple roll 
picture of pine, bamboo^ and plum^ painted by an ancient 
artist. On the platform beneath was the beautiful Taka- 
sago table where the white-haired old couple with rake and 
broom were gathering pine needles on the shore. Other 
emblems of happy married life were everywhere, for each 
gift — and there were whole rooms full — was decorated 
with small figures of snowy storks, of gold-brown tortoises, 
or beautiful sprays of entwined pine, bamboo, and plum. 
Two new rooms, w^hich had been recently built, were full 
of beautiful lacquer toilet cases and whitewood chests with 
iron clasps. They had come the day before, in a pro- 
cession oj immense trays swinging from poles on the 
shoulders of coolies. Each was covered with a cloth bear- 
ing a crest not ours. 

Ishi and I wandered from room to room, she explaining 
that the bride for the young master would soon be there. 
She allowed me one peep into the wedding room. It was 
all white and plain and empty except for the offerings to 
the gods on the tokonoma and the little table with the 
three red cups for the sacred promise. 

Ishi was continually running to look out toward the big 
entrance gate, and of course wherever she went I was close 
by, holding to her sleeve. The whole ho,use was open. ■ 


S6 A DAUGHTER OF THE SAMURAI 

The sliding doors of every room were pushed back a^fd we 
could see clear to the big open gateway at thg end of the 
stone walk. Just beneath its narrow thatch was looped 
a dark-blue curtain bearing the Inagaki crest and on each 
side were tall slender stands holding lanterns of congratu- 
lation. Near one of the stone posts was the “seven-and-a- 
half-times” messenger in his stiff-sleeved garment. He 
had returned from his seventh trip to see if' the bridal 
procession was coming, and though the day was bright 
with sunshine, was just lighting his big lantern for his last 
trip to meet it halfway — thus showipg our eagerness to 
welcome the coming bride. 

Presently Ishi said that the procession was almost here 
and I saw the servants hurrying toward the entrance, all 
smiling, but moving with such respectful quiet that I could 
hear plainly the creaking of the bride’s palanquin and the 
soft thud of the jinrikisha men’s feet as they came up the 
hill. 

Then suddenly something was wrong. Ishi caught my 
shoulder and pulled me back, and Brother came hurriedly 
out of Father’s room. He passed us with long, swinging 
strides, never looking at me at all, and, stepping into his . 
shoes on the garden step, he walked rapidly toward the side 
entrance. I had never seen him after that day. 

The maiden my brother was to have married did not 
return to her former home. Having left it to become a 
bride, she was legally no longer a member of her father’s 
family. This unusual problem Mother solved by inviting 
her to remain in our home as a daughter; which she did 
until finally Mother arranged a good marriage for her. 

In a childish way I wondered about all the strangeness, 
but years had passed before I connected it with the sudden 
going away at this time of a graceful little maid named 
Tama, who used to arrange flowers and perform light 
duties. Her merry laugh and ready tongue made her a 



THE WEDDING THAT NEVER WAS 57 

■ favoi^ite'OT the entire household. Tama : was not; a 

■ servant. Ip those days it was' the custom for daughters; of 
w tradesmen to be sent to live for a short time in a 
house of rank, that the maiden might learn the strict 

: ■ etiquette of samurai home life. This position ' was 'far 
; from menial. A girl living with a family for social edu- 
cation yas always treated with- respectful consideration. 

The mording after my brother went away I was going, 
as usual, to pay my morning greetings to my father when 
I met Tama coming from his door, looking pale and 
startled. She bow^ good morning to me and then passed 
quietly on. That afternoon I missed her and Ishi told 
me that she had gone home. 

Whatever may have been between my brother and 
Tama I never knew; but I cannot but feel that, guilt or 
innocence, there was somewhere a trace of courage. My 
brother was weak, of course, to prolong his heart struggle 
until almost the last moment, but he must have had much 
of his father^s strong character to enable him, even then, 
to break with the traditions of his rigid training and defy 
his father^s command. In that day there could be only a 
.hopeless ending to such an affair, for no marriage was 
legal without the consent of parents, and my father, with 
heart wounded and pride shamed, had declared that he had 
no son. 

It was not until several years later that I heard again 
of my brother. One afternoon Father was showing me 
some twisting tricks with a string. I was kneeling close 
beside his cushion, watching his rapidly moving hands and 
trying to catch his fingers in my own. Mother was 
sitting near with her sewing, and all three of us were laugh- 

A maid came to the door to say that Major Sato, a 
Tokyo gentleman whom my father knew very well, had 
called. I slipped back by Mother. She started to leave 


58 A DAUGHTER OF THE SAMURAI 

the room, but Father motioned her not to go, and^o we 
both remained. * 

I shall never forget that scene. Major Sato, speaking 
with great earnestness, told how my brother had gone to 
Tokyo and entered the Army College. With only his own 
efforts he had completed the course with honour and was 
now a lieutenant. There Major Sato paused^ • 

My father sat very still with his head held high and 
absolutely no expression on his stern face. For a full 
minute the room was so silent that I could hear myself 
breathe. Then my father, still witliout moving, asked 
quietly, “Is your message delivered, Major Sato?” 

“It is finished,” was the reply. 

• “Your interest is appreciated. Major Sato, This is 
my answer: I have daughters, but no son.” 

'Mother had sat perfectly quiet throughout, with her 
head bowed and her hands tightly clasped in her lap. 
When Father spoke she gave a little shudder but did not 
move. 

Presently Father turned toward her. “Wife,” he said 
very gently, “ask Ishi to bring the go board, and send wine 
to the honourable guest.” 

Whatever was in the heart of either man, they calmly 
played the game to the end, and Mother and I sat there in 
the deep silence as motionless as statues. 

That night when Ishi was helping me undress, I saw 
tears in her eyes. 

“What troubles you, Ishi?” I asked. “Why do you 
almost cry?” 

She sank to her knees, burying her face in her sleeves, 
and for the only time in my life I heard Ishi wail like a 
servant. “Oh, Little Mistress, Little Mistress,” she 
sobbed, “I am not sad. I am glad. I am thankful to the 
gods that I am lowly born and can cry when my heart is 
filled with ache and can laugh when my heart sings. Oh, 



THE WEDDING THAT NEVER: m 

my Mistress! My' pootj poor Master!’' , And: 

she still sobhed. 

That was all long ago, and now, after many years, my 
brother was coming back to his home. 

The snow went away, the spring passed and , summer, 

, was with us. It seemed a long, long wait, but at last came 
: a day,when t|!,e shrine doors were opened early in the morn-- 
ing and the candles kept burning steadily hour after hour, 
for Grandmother wanted the presence of the ancestors in 
the welcome to the wanderer, and as the trip from Tokyo 
was by jinrikisha ^id kago in those days, the time of 
arrival was very uncertain. But at last the call ^^Honour- 
able I'eturn!” at the gateway brought everyone except 
Grandmother to the entrance. We all bowed our faces 
to the floor, but nevertheless I saw a man in foreign dress 
jump from his jinrikisha, give a quick look around, and 
then walk slowly up the old stone path toward us. He 
stopped at one place and smiled as he pulled a tuft of the 
little blossoms growing between the stones. But he threw 
it away at once and came on. 

The greetings at the door were very short. Brother 
•and Mother bowed, he speaking gently to her and she 
looking at him with a smile that had tears close behind. 
Then he laughingly called me ‘^the same curly-haired, 
round-faced Etsu-bo.” 

His foreign shoes were removed by Jiya, and we went 
in. Of course, he went to the shrine first. He bowed 
and did everything just right, but too quickly, and some 
way I felt troubled. Then he went to Grandmother's 

Immediately after greetings , were ' over, Grandmother 
handed him Father’s lacquer letter-box. He lifted it to 
his forehead with formal courtesy; then, taking out the 
' letter, he slowly: unrolled it ■ and, with a strange expression, :, 
sat looking at the writing.' I was. shocked to feel, that ^ F 


60 ::/;^.; OF. THE SAMURAI ; 

coold not . know whether that look nieant i)itterii€ssj or 
amusement, , or hopelessness. It seemed to cbe a combi- .' 
nation of all three. ^ The message was very short. In a 
trembling hand was written: ""You are now the head of 
Inagaki. My son, I trust you.^' That was all. 

That evening a grand dinner was served in our best 
room. Brother sat next the tokonoma, 4^11 Ae near, 
relatives were there, and we had the kind of food Brother 
used to like. There was a great deal of talking, but he 
was rather quiet, although he told us some things about 
America. I watched him as he talkecjt. His strange dress 
with tight sleeves and his black stockings suggested 
kitchen people, and he sat cross-legged on his cushion. 
His voice was rather loud and he had a quick way of look- 
ing from one person to another that was almost startling. 

I felt a little troubled and uncertain— almost disappointed; 
for in some puzzling way he was different from what I 
wanted him to be. But one thing I loved at once. He 
had the same soft twinkle in his eyes when he smiled that 
Father had. Every time I saw that, I felt that however 
different from Father he might look — or be — he really 
had the lovable part of Father in his heart. And in spite* 
of a vague fear, I knew, deep, deep down, that whatever 
might happen in the days, or years, to come, I should 
always love him and should always be true to him. And I 
always have. 


CHAPTER VIII 


TWO VENTURES 

M y bro’ther’s coming introduced an entirely new 
and exciting element into our home. This was the 
letters which he occasionally received from friends in 
America. The letters were dull, for they told of nothing 
but people and business; so after the first few I lost all 
interest in them. But the big, odd-shaped envelopes and 
the short pages of thick paper covered with faint pen- 
writing held a wonderful fascination. None of us had 
even seen a pen or any kind of writing-paper except our 
rolls of thin paper with the narrow envelopes. We could 
write a letter of any length, sometimes several feet, on that 
paper. We began at the right side and, using a brush, 
wrote in vertical lines, unrolling from the left as we wrote. 
The graceful black characters standing out against a back- 
aground all white, but shaded by the varying thickness of the 
paper into a mass of delicate, misty blossoms, were very 
artistic. In later years we had flowered paper in colours, 
but when I was a child only white was considered dignified. 

Brother always used the large, odd-shaped envelopes for 
letters to America; so I supposed that kind was necessary. 
One day he asked me to hand to the postman a letter en- 
closed in one of our narrow envelopes, embossed with a 
graceful branch of maple leaves. I was greatly surprised 
when I saw that it had an expensive stamp on the corner 
and was addressed to America. 

"^Honourable Brother,"’ I hesitatingly asked, ""will Gov- 
ernment allow this letter to go?” 


62 


A DAUGHTER - OF THE SAMURAI 


'H thought only big envelopes could be us^d for letters 
to America/^ 

^^Nonsense!'’ he said crossly. And then he added in a 
kind tone, havenT any more, and those I sent for to 
Tokyo, haven't come/" 

And so the delicate maple leaves went to America and 
my girlish heart was pleased. It was the nrst pleasant 
bond between the two countries of which I had known. 

There was nothing definite in my mind against America, 
but I was so constantly hearing allusions to the disagree- 
able experiences of almost all persons who had dealings 
with foreigners that I had a vague feeling of distaste for 
the unknown land. This impression was strengthened 
by odd stories told by servants of red-faced, light-haired 
barbarians who had no heels and had to prop up their 
shoes with artificial blocks." 

It was said that animals were eaten whole by these 
strange people, and that the master of a lordly house often 
entertained his guests by cutting up a cooked eagle in 
their presence. It was also rumoured that the cheap red 
blankets extensively imported at that time were dyed with - 
the blood of stolen infants. One report, which was wide- 
spread, in city and country alike, was that the peculiar 
animal odour of foreigners was caused by the eating of 
flesh. This probably originated from the unfamiliar 
odour of wool noticed in the damp clothing of foreign 
sailors. Since we had neither sheep nor woollen cloth in 
Japan, the unfamiliar odour was naturally associated with 
the person who carried the scent about with him. The 
name has clung, and even yet it is not uncommon for 
country people, inquiring in a store for woollen cloth, to 
ask for ^"^animal-smelling goods." 

Brother denied very few of these tales. I think many 
of them he believed, even after having lived in America. 



TWO VENTURES 


63 

Apparently he had met while there very few people except 
those engaged in buying and selling. Once Grandmother 
said, with a sigh, “Your honourable brother seems to have 
learned only the ways of tradesmen in far-away America. 
But,” she added thoughtfully, “perhaps it is a land where 
only tradesmen live.” 

He had been to America, but we did not realize that he 
had seen only one small portion of one coast city in ‘that 
great land. 

As time passed on. Brother seemed to withdraw from 
our family life, and*,yet he did not fall into the life of the 
people of Nagaoka. He was different from everybody. 
Sometimes he looked troubled and anxious, but more often 
he was only restless and dissatisfied. At such times he 
frequently came and sat beside me as I sewed or studied, 
and I think he talked more freely to me than to any one 
else. Occasionally, though not often, he spoke of himself, 
and gradually I learned much of what his life had been 
since he left home. 

His going to America was due to the craze for foreign 
business which had struck Tokyo so forcefully about the 
, time Brother left the army. Many young men, confident 
of rapid and brilliant success, were launching out in various 
directions, and someone induced Brother to invest all he 
had in what was represented to be a large export company 
having offices in America. He was offered a partnership 
if he would take charge of the business there. Like most 
men of his rank, he had no realization of his own ignorance 
of business methods; so he accepted and set sail for 
America. On reaching his destination he found that he 
had been defrauded. The export company was only a 
small toy-shop situated in a crowded Japanese district 
and kept by the wife of a workman who knew nothing of 
the promised partnership. 

Astonished and disappointed, Brother made his way to a 


62 A DAUGHTER OF THE SAMURAI 
Why not , . 

"T thought only, big envelopes could be us^d for letters 
to America/^ 

^^Nonsense!^’ he said crossly. And then he added in a 
kind tone, havener any more, and those I sent for to 
Tokyo, haven’t come.” 

And so the delicate maple leaves went to America and 
my girlish heart was pleased. It was the first pleasant 
bond between the two countries of which I had known. 

There was nothing definite in my mind against America, 
but I was so constantly hearing allusjons to the disagree- 
able experiences of almost all persons who had dealings 
with foreigners that I had a vague feeling of distaste for 
the unknown land. This impression was strengthened 
by odd stories told by servants of ^T*ed-faced, light-haired 
barbarians who had no heels and had to prop up their 
shoes with artificial blocks.” 

It was said that animals were eaten whole by these 
strange people, and that the master of a lordly house often 
entertained his guests by cutting up a cooked eagle in 
their presence. It was also rumoured that the cheap red 
blankets extensively imported at that time were dyed with « 
the blood of stolen infants. One report, which was wide- 
spread, in city and country alike, was that the peculiar 
animal odour of foreigners was caused by the eating of 
flesh. This probably originated from the unfamiliar 
odour of wool noticed in the damp clothing of foreign 
sailors. Since we had neither sheep nor woollen cloth in 
Japan, the unfamiliar odour was naturally associated with 
the person who carried the scent about with him. The 
name has clung, and even yet it is not uncommon for 
country people, inquiring in a store for woollen cloth, to 
ask for ^‘^animal-smelling goods.” 

Brother denied very few of these tales. I think many 
of them he believed, even after having lived in America. 



TWO VENTURES 


63 

Apparently he had met while there very few people except 
those engaged in buying and selling. Once Grandmother 
said, with a sigh, “Your honourable brother seems to have 
learned only the ways of tradesmen in far-away America. 
But,” she added thoughtfully, “perhaps it is a land where 
only tradesmen live.” 

He had been to America, but we did not realize that he 
had seen only one small portion of one coast city in 'that 
great land. 

As time passed on. Brother seemed to withdraw from 
our family life, and^yet he did not fall into the life of the 
people of Nagaoka. He was different from everybody. 
Sometimes he looked troubled and anxious, but more often 
he was only restless and dissatisfied. At such times he 
frequently came and sat beside me as I sewed or studied, 
and I think he talked more freely to me than to any one 
else. Occasionally, though not often, he spoke of himself, 
and gradually I learned much of what his life had been 
since he left home. 

His going to America was due to the craze for foreign 
business which had struck Tokyo so forcefully about the 
.time Brother left the army. Many young men, confident 
of rapid and brilliant success, were launching out in various 
directions, and someone induced Brother to invest all he 
had in what was represented to be a large export company 
having offices in America. He was offered a partnership 
if he would take charge of the business there, tike most 
men of his rank, he had no realization of his own ignorance 
of business methods; so he accepted and set sail for 
America. On reaching his destination he found that he 
had been defrauded. The export company was only a 
small toy-shop situated in a crowded Japanese district 
and kept by the wife of a workman who knew nothing of 
the promised partnership. 

Astonished and disappointed, Brother made his way to a 


:64 ■ ^ ^ DAUGHTER OF THE SAMURAI ■ : 

near-by hotel— -a pretty poor place, he said — where many 
Japanese men were talking and playing games. They 
were mostly workmen or cheap clerks of a humble class 
with almost no education. But they were most respectful 
to him, and, though the surroundings were uncongenial, he 
knew no other place to go. In a short time he had spent 
all his money, and, knowing nothing of any i^nd of work, 
and almost nothing of the English language, he easily 
drifted downward into the life of those around him. 

Some men would have pushed up through the mud and 
found light, but my brother knew lit/:Ie of foreigners, he 
had no ambitions regarding them, and what he saw of 
them where he was only repelled him. 

Sometimes he left the crowded district where he lived 
and strolled through wide streets where there were tall 
buildings and big stores. There he saw foreign people, 
but they either paid no attention to him or looked at him 
as he himself would look at a coolie at home. This amused 
him; for, to him, the strange-looking men who hurried by 
him, talking in loud voices and smoking large, ill-smelling 
tobacco rolls, or chewing horrible stuff that they blew out 
of their mouths on to the street, were wholly disgusting.- 
The women were queerly dressed creatures who stared, 
and laughed with their mouths open. Nothing seemed 
delicate or refined, only big and strong and coarse. Every- 
thing repelled his artistic soul; so he drifted back to his 
uncongenial — but understandable— surroundings. 

Then Fate stepped in. My brother was hurt by an 
accidental blow on the head, which sent him to a hospital 
for three blessed, cool, clean weeks. The day he was dis- 
missed and, sick at heart, was slowly walking toward the 
only place he knew to go— his old quarters — he turned a 
corner and suddenly came face to face with a young man, 
vigorous and brisk, walking with a quick step. The man 
laughed aloud as both abruptly came to a standstill; then, 



seeing how pale and ill Brother looked, he turned and 
walked with him. 

However shabbily my brother might be dressed, he 
always had the bearing of a gentleman, and recognizing 
this, the young man, whose name was Matsuo, insisted 
on taking Brother to his own room. A few days later 
he fouad ajplace for him in a store where he himself was 
foreman, and the acquaintance thus begun ripened into a 
warm and lasting friendship. 

Had this help been given when Brother first reached 
America, the high-i>red, delicately reared youth, although 
over-indulged and unwisely trained for practical life, 
might have won his puzzling way through all the strange- 
ness; but it was now too late. That accidental blow on 
the head had caused a damage, which, though not ap- 
parent at first, gradually developed into a trouble that 
unfitted him for steady work; and my poor brother was 
never the same again. But Matsuo was steadfastly kind. 

Then came a message from Major Sato in Tokyo, saying 
Father was ill and wanted his son to return home. 
Of what was in my brother’s heart then I know nothing, 
. but for many weeks he delayed his reply. Then he 
came. 

That autumn our year of mourning was over, and 
Brother, being home to take the place of Father, Sister’s 
marriage was planned for harvest time. The season, 
however, was early. Rice patches throughout Echigo 
were bowing with rich promise early in October, but of 
course, nobody was ever married in the no-god month, so 
the first good-luck day in November was chosen. 

It is during October that the marriage gods all meet in 
Idzumo temple to join the names of those who are to wed. 
One of the favourite stories for grandmothers and nurses 
to tell little girls is about a youth of olden time who was 
so unfortunate as to have no parents or elder brother. 



66 A DAUGHTER OF THE SAMURAI 

There' Being no one to arrange marriage for him/ he-grew 
to the age of twenty and was still a bachelor. , 

■One October day he decided to visit Idzumo temple to 
see if his name was coupled with that of any maiden. So,' 
taking with him, as a gift, the first rice-sheaf of his harvest, 
he started on his long day’s journey. As he approached 
the temple steps he heard voices. Names ^were being 
called like counting: ^^He;she.” ^^He; she.” He recog- 
nized the name of a young man he knew; then another, 
and another — each paired off with the name of a young 
woman. 

^'Maa! Maa!^' whispered the astonished youth, ^^1 
have intruded upon a meeting of the gods.” 

But his interest was too great to allow him to retreat. 
Creeping between the ornamental posts that supported 
the floor, he listened, guiltily, but with anxious hope. 

Another two names! Another! ^^He; she.” ‘^He; 
she” — but alas! not his own. 

Finally a voice of authority announced, “These are 
planned. Our last day is almost gone and our work for 
the year is ended.” 

“Wait a moment,” said another voice. “There is 
Taro. Again he is left. Cannot we find a maiden for 
him?” 

The youth’s heart gave a bound, for he was Taro. 

“Oh, troublesome!” impatiently cried a god. “Again 
comes that name!” 

“We need not haste. He has no one to arrange for 
him, -'^said another. ' ^ 

“His name must go uncoupled for another year,” 
came from a distant corner. “There is no maiden left.” 

‘‘Wait!” spoke the first voice. “In Chestnut Village 
a girl has just been born in the house of the village master. 
The family is of higher class, but let us give her to Taro. 
Then our work will be done.” 


TWO VENTURES 


€7; 

cried all the gods. '^^Put the; na^ 
together and we will hasten to the duties of our; own 
.shrines.’’ 

"^‘Oiir work for the year is ended/’ spoke , the- voice of 
authority. ' 

The youth crept away, excited and indignant, and sorel 5 r 
diappointe4. . 

As he trudged slowly along the road on his homeward 
way, both disappointment and indignation grew, but when 
he came in sight of Chestnut Village and saw the comfort- 
able house of the Hillage master with its thick thatch and 
large screen heavy with drying sheafs of rice, his anger 
lessened and he thought, After all, it is not so bad !” He 
walked slowly by the open door. A child’s bed of cushions 
was just within. He saw a baby’s face and a tiny close- 
shut hand. 

‘^Twelve years, at least, to wait!” he suddenly cried. 

will not have it so! I will defy the gods!” 

On the tokonoma was a sword-rest holding the single 
sword of a humble vassal. Grasping it, he made a quick 
thrust through the cushions, and bounding through the 
door, he hurried on his way. 

Years passed. Fate was kind and Taro prospered, 
but no bride could he find. More years passed. At last, 
patiently accepting bachelorhood as a punishment for his 
defiance of the gods, he became resigned. 

Then a surprising thing happened. A go-between 
called with the offer of a bride— beautiful, industrious, 
dutiful. Taro was delighted. Negotiations were carried 
through; the bride came; the marriage took place and the 
young wife proved all that the happy Taro could wish. 
One warm day, when she was sewing on the porch, she 
loosened her collar folds and Taro saw an odd curving scar 
on her neck. 


m 


A ' DAUGHTER OF THE SAMURAI 


' ^That is' a strange ■ mystery/’ said the bride/ smilmg. 
; ^'' When I was only a babe, my grandmother heard me cry, 
and coming, found my father’s sword on the floor and I 
with this curving cut across my neck and shoulder. No 
one was near, and it was never learned how it happened. 
My grandmother said that I was marked by the gods for 
some wise purpose. And so it must be/’ concluded the 
wife as she leaned again over her sewing. 

Taro walked thoughtfully away. Again he saw the 
baby face and the tiny close-shut hand; and he realized 
how hopeless it is to try to thwart ^the decree of the 
gods. 

When Ishi told us this story, she always closed with, 
^^And so you see it is useless not to accept gratefully the 
will of the gods. What is planned must be obeyed.” 

When the day of Sister’s wedding came, we were all 
greatly excited; but the real excitement of a Japanese 
marriage is at the house of the bridegroom, as it is there 
that the w'edding takes place. However, the ceremony 
of leaving home is always elaborate, and for several days 
our entire house was filled with the sound of people order- 
ing and people obeying. Then came a day when Taki, 
Ishi, and Toshi were busy for hours, all three folding 
bedding and packing bridal chests; and the next day the 
procession of bridal belongings went swinging out of our 
gateway and on over the mountain to Sister’s home-to-be. 

Two days later Sister went away. The hairdresser 
came very early that morning, for the bride’s hair had to 
be arranged in the elaborate married style with wonderful 
ornaments of tortoise-shell and coral. Then her face and 
neck were covered with thick white powder and she was 
dressed in a robe and sash of white — the death colour — 
because marriage means the bride’s death to her father’s 
family. Beneath this was a garment of scarlet, the dress 



TWO VENTURES 


69 

of a jiew-born babe, typical of her birth into her husband’s 
family. Mother had on her beautiful crest dress, and 
Brother looked like Father in the ceremonious pleated 
linen skirt and stiff shoulder-piece of the kamishimo. I 
was so glad to see him look like Father. 

Just as the bridal palanquin was brought to the door, 
we all*wen| to the shrine for Sister to say farewell to the 
spirit of our ancestors, for, after marriage, she would 
belong no longer to our family, but to her husband’s. She 
bowed alone before the shrine. Then Mother slipped over 
the mat to her si|le and presented her with a beautiful 
mirror-case, the kind that all Japanese ladies wear with 
ceremonial dress. Sister’s was beautiful mosaic-work 
of crepe in a pattern of pine, bamboo, and plum. It had 
been made by our great-grandmother’s own hands. In- 
side it was a small mirror. A brocade-covered crystal 
hung from it on a silk cord and, on the edge of the case, 
slipped under the band, was a long silver hairpin. In 
olden days this was a dagger. These are emblematic of 
the mirror, the jewel, and the sword of the Imperial re- 
galia. 

As Mother handed the mirror-case to Sister, she said the 
same words that every mother says to a bride. She told 
her that now she was to go forth bravely to her new life, 
just as a soldier goes to battle. “Look in the mirror 
every day,” she said, “for if scars of selfishness or pride 
are in the heart, they will grow into the lines of the face. 
Watch closely. Be strong like the pine, yield in gentle 
obedience like the swaying bamboo, and yet, like the 
fragrant plum blossoming beneath the snow, never lose the 
gentle perseverance of loyal womanhood.” 

I never saw my mother so moved, but poor Sister looked 
only blank and expressionless beneath the stiff white 
powder. 

We all bowed deeply at the door. Sister entered the 


A DAUGHTER OF THE SAMURAI 


70 

palanquin and the next moment was hidden behind the 
reed screen of the little window. Her own nurse, who 
should have come next, had married and gone far away, 
so Ishi took her place and entered the first jinrikisha. 
The go-between and his wife were in the next two, and 
then came Brother and Mother. The procession started, 
Toshi sprinkled salt on the doorstep just as^if af> corpse 
had been carried out, and mingling with the sound of 
rolling wheels and the soft thud of trotting feet came 
Grandmother’s trembly old voice singing the farewell part 
of the wedding-song: ^ 

^Trom the shore 
A boat with lifted sail 
Rides toward the rising moon. 

On waves of ebbing tide it sails. 

The shadow of the land falls backward. 

And the boat sails farther — farther — 

So ended Sister’s life as an Inagaki; for however often 
she might visit us after this, and however lovingly and 
informally she might be treated, she would never again 
be anything but a guest. 

Long afterward Sister told me of her trip to her new 
home. It was only a few hours long, but she had to go 
over a mountain, and the palanquin jolted fearfully. 
She said her greatest anxiety was to keep her head, laden 
with the heavy shell bars, from bumping against the 
cushions and disarranging her elaborately dressed hair. 
Finally the carriers were trotting along evenly on a smooth 
road, then they came to a stop and Ishi pushed up the 
reed screen of the window. 

' “Young Mistress,” she said, “we have reached the halt- 
ing place where we are to rest before presenting ourselves 
to the house of the honourable bridegroom.” 

Mother and Ishi helped Sister out, and they all went 


TWO VENTURES 


71: 

into good-sized blit simple farmhouse. They were re- 
ceived' most graciously by the hostess, who was a distaiit 
relative of the bridegroom’s family. There they had 
dinner, each person being served with red rice and a small 
fish, head and all — meaning Congratulation. Ishi fresh- 
ened up Sister’s dress, looked over her sash, examined her 
hair, and re|ouched her powdered face. Then the pro- 
cession moved slowly on, up a long sloping hill At the 
top they were met by the ^^seven-and-a-half-times” 
courier and soon reached the big gateway with its crest 
banner and lanterrfts of welcome. She was conscious of 
being on a stone path when the carriers placed the palan- 
quin to the ground. She could see nothing, but she knew 
that in a moment the little window in the front would be 
opened and the bridegroom’s face would appear. Then 
he would strike the top of the palanquin with his fan, 
which would mean Welcome. 

There was usually no delay, but this bridegroom was a 
bashful youth, only seventeen, and they had to go for 
him. Sister said that in those few minutes of waiting, 
she, for the first time, was frightened. Then she heard 
swift footsteps and the next moment the little reed screen 
was jerked open. She ought to have sat quietly, with 
her eyes cast modestly down, but she was startled and 
gave one quick glance upward. In that instant’s time 
she saw a pale, pock-marked face with a broad low brow 
and close-pressed lips. 

Down went the screen and, without a second’s pause, 
*‘clap! clap!” came a nervous slap of the fan above her 
head. 

The palanquin was lifted and carried to the door. 
Sister, within, sat strangely calm, for in that instant of 
lifted screen her fright had slipped away — for ever. 

The door was reached. The palanquin was lowered to 
the ground. Sister was helped out, and as she entered her 


72 ^^/ OF THE 'SAMURAI - ; 

life home^ two old voices completed the wedding-soBg with 
the words of welcome: 

‘‘On the sea 
A boat with lifted sail 
Rides toward the rising moon- 
On the waves of the flowing tide it comes. 

The shadow of the past lies far behindf 
And the boat sails nearer — nearer 
To the shore called Happy Life.'^ 



CHAPTER IX 


$ ^THE STORY OF A MARIONETTE 

O N THE first day of Ura Bon, when I was twelve years 
old, Ishi brought a new ornament for my hair and 
placed it just in froJ^t of my big, stand-up bow-knot. It 
was a silver shield set in a mass of small, loose silver 
flowers, and looked very beautiful against the shiny black 
background. 

^Ht was sent to you by Honourable Yedo Grand- 
mother,’^ she said. She had it made from melted ancient 
coins, and it is very wonderful.” 

I turned my face in the direction of Tokyo and bowed 
a silent Thank you” to the kind invisible donor. Just 
who Honourable Yedo Grandmother was I did not know. 
Each year, ever since I could remember, I had received a 
beautiful gift from her for our midsummer festival of Ura 
Bon, and, in a vague way, I was conscious that our family 
had some close connection with her; but I gave it no 
thought. All little girls had grandmothers. Some had 
two and some still more. Of course, grandmothers on 
the mother’s side lived elsewhere, but it was not unusual 
for a father to have both his mother and grandmother 
living in his home. Old people were always welcome, 
their presence giving dignity to the family. The house 
of a son who had the care of three generations of parents 
was called ^‘^the honoured seat of the aged.” 

Ura Bon — (A Welcome to Souls Returned) — ^was our 
festival to celebrate the annual visit of O Shorai Sama, 
a term used to represent the combined spirits of all our 

73 '- 



74 A DAUGHTER OF THE SAMURAI . 

ancestors. It was the most dearly loved of our festivals, 
for we believed that our ancestors never lost their loving 
interest in us, and this yearly visit kept fresh in all our 
hearts a cheerful and affectionate nearness to the dear 
ones gone. 

In preparing for the arrival of O Shorai Sama the only 
standards were cleanliness and simplicity; eferything 
being done in an odd primitive fashion, not elaborated, 
even in the slightest degree, from Bon festivals of the 
most ancient time. 

For several days everyone had b^en busy. Jiya and 
another man had trimmed the trees and hedges, had swept 
all the ground, even under the house, and had carefully 
washed off the stepping stones in the garden. The floor 
mats were taken out and whipped dustless with bamboo 
switches. Kin and Toshi, in the meantime, making the 
air resound with the “pata-pata-pata” of paper dusters 
against the shoji, and the long-drawn-out “see-wee-is-shi” 
of steaming hot padded cloths pushed up and down the 
polished porch floors. All the woodwork in the house — 
the broad ceiling boards, the hundreds of tiny white bars 
crossing the paper doors, the carved ventilators, and the 
mirror-like post and platform of the tokonomas — ^was 
wiped off with hot water; then every little broken place 
in the rice-paper shoji was mended, and finally the entire 
house, from thatch to the under-floor ice-box, was as fresh 
and clean as rain-water falling from the sky. 

Mother brought from the godown a rare old kakemono, 
one of Father’s treasures, and after it was hung Kin placed 
beneath it our handsomest bronze vase holding a big loose 
bunch of the seven grasses of autumn — althea, pampas, 
convolvulus, wild pink, and three kinds of asters, purple, 
yellow, and white. These are mostly flowers, but Japanese 
designate all plants that grow from the ground in slender, 
blade-like leaves, as grasses. 



. THE STORY OF ;A' MARIONETTE 75 

The shrine was, of course, the mostiinportaiit of all, as 
it was there the spirit guest lived during the days of the 
visit. Jiya had gone to the pond before dawn to get lotus 
blossoms, for it is only with the first rays of sunrise that 
the ^^puff” comes, which opens the pale green buds into 
snowy beauty. Before he returned, the shrine had been 
emptied Snd (^leaned, and the bronze Buddha reverentially 
dusted and returned to his place on the gilded lotus. 
The tablet holding the ancestors’ names, and Father’s 
picture, which Mother always kept in the shrine, were 
wiped olF carefully, the brass open-work ^^everlasting- 
light” lantern filled afresh with rape-seed oil, the incense 
burner, the candle stands, the sacred books, and our 
rosaries, all arranged in place, and the ugly fish-mouth 
wooden drum, which is typical of woman’s submissive 
position, rubbed until the worn place on the red lacquer 
was a shiny brown. Then Jiya covered the floor before 
the shrine with a fresh, rudely woven mat of pampas grass 
and placed on either side a vase holding bunches of the 
seven grasses of autumn. 

But the most interesting time of all came when Honour- 
able Grandmother and I sat down before the shrine to 
prepare the decorations of welcome. I always loved to 
help her do this. Ishi and Toshi brought us some odd- 
shaped vegetables they had found in the garden, a handful 
of dried hemp stems from which the bark had been re- 
moved, and yards and yards of somen — a sort of soft, 
pliable macaroni. Honourable Grandmother took a 
crooked-necked cucumber, one end of which was shaped 
something like a lifted head, and made it into a horse, using 
corn silk for mane and tail and hemp stems for stiff little 
legs. Of a small, plump eggplant she made a water 
buffalo, with horns and legs of hemp stems, and twisting 
some half-dried somen into harness for both little animals, 
she placed them in the shrine.r 1 made several horses 



: : 76 . : V':^ . A OF THE, SAMURAI ' ; V 

buffaloes too. While we were working/ Jiya came in; 
with some small lotus leaves, the edges of which were 
beginning to dry and turn up like little curved dishes, 
and a few very small yellow and red balls, a new kind of 
fruit, which I now know were tomatoes. 

After Ishi had filled the lotus-leaf dishes with vegetables 
and every kind of fruit except the furry pe*ach,^ Honour- 
able Grandmother looped the somen across the top of the 
shrine in a series of graceful festoons, hanging on it at 
intervals small purple eggplants and ^he tiny yellow and 
red tomatoes. 

Then Ishi brought the kitchen ^‘row-of-steps,’^ and 
climbing up, hung the white Bon lantern high above every- 
thing. It was only a white paper cube, twisted about 
with a braid of paper having loose ends; but when it was 
lighted the heat made it constantly whirl, and the many 
ends of paper rising, falling, and waving looked like a 
flock of tiny fluttering birds. It was very beautiful. 

The meaning of the decorations and the queer little 
vegetable animals has been lost in the mist of past years, 
but the lotus-leaf shape of the dishes was because the 
lotus is a sacred flower. The Buddhist bible tells this 
story of Buddha’s time of temptation when he was living 
as a hermit on the Mount of Snow. 

One day, at the hour of dawn, he was sitting in medi- 
tation, when he heard a strange, sweet song. , As he 
listened wonder and joy crept into his heart, for in the 
notes of the melody was slowly unfolding the plan of 
salvation. Suddenly it ceased. In vain he waited. All 
was silence. Hurrying to the edge of a precipice he peered 
into the mists of the valley and there saw a horrible 
demon who turned a taunting face toward the disappointed 
and anxious prophet. Earnestly the Buddha begged 
for the remainder of the song, but the demon said that he 
could sing no more until his hunger was satisfied with 



THE STORY OF A MARIONETTE 


77 

human flesh arid his thirst with human blood. Then 
would he sing the mystic plan, until the knowledge of 
salvation had reached all humankind. 

The Buddha’s dearest vision that he himself should 
bring the message to the world faded into nothingness, 
and eagerly he cried, “Satisfy thy hunger with my flesh, 
and quenth thy thirst with my blood; but continue thy 
song until every soul is saved ! ” and casting off his robe he 
sprang from the rock. A sudden gleam of sunshine 
lighted the valley and touched the waters of a pool where 
was floating a iotu^with spreading leaves and one un- 
opened bud. As the holy prophet fell through the air, 
the bud burst suddenly into bloom, and on its snowy 
petals softly sank the one who was to give to more than 
one third of the world a faith far better than any they had 
known. 

The raised centre of the lotus, even now, is called 
utena, which means “seat,” and lotus blossoms, either 
natural or artificial, are always before every Buddhist 
shrine. 

Just before sunset we were all ready, for twilight was 
the hour of welcome. 0 Shorai Sama was always spoken 
of as a vague, impersonal figure who came riding on a 
snow-white steed from “the land of darkness, the shores, 
of the unknown, the place of the dead.” 

Like all children I had always looked forward with 
pleasure to the visit of the ancestors, but after Father’s 
death, I felt a deep personal interest, and my heart was 
beating with excitement, as the family met at the shrine. 
Each one, even the servants, wore a new dress — simple 
and inexpensive, but new. As twilight deepened, the 
shrine lantern was lighted, the rAo/i pushed back, and 
the entrance doors opened; thus leaving a free path from 
the outside road all the way to the shrine. 

Then we started, walking two by two through the open 


78 A DAUGHTER OF THE SAMURAI 

door, across the hall, down the step of the “shoe-ofF” 
place and along the stone walk to the big entrance gates, 
which were open wide. In the centre of the gateway Jiya 
had criss-crossed a little pile of hemp stems — ^just thirteen 
— around a tiny heap of fluffy dried grass. When we 
reached this we parted, Jiya and Yoshita going on one side 
of the path, and on the other. Honourable Graifdmother, 
Mother, myself, and Ishi, Kin, and Toshi. Then, all re- 
spectfully stooping, we bowed our heads and waited. 
Brother was in Tokyo, so Honourable^randmother, with 
Ishi’s help, struck the fire of purity with flint and steel, 
and the dropping sparks lighted the hemp stems into a 
blaze of welcome. 

All the town was silent and dusky except for hundreds 
of tiny fires, for one was blazing at every gateway. As I 
bowed, my longing heart seemed to pull my father to me. 
Through the distance I could hear the sound of soft, gallop- 
ing feet, and I knew the snow-white steed was nearing. The 
moment’s blaze of the hemp-stem fire was dying, a faint 
breath of warm August wind struck my cheek, and peace 
crept into my heart. Slowly we rose and with bowed 
heads walked back, on the outside edges of the path, two 
by two— but wide apart — leaving the sacred space of the 
walk between. When we reached the shrine Mother 
struck the gong and we all bowed with the dignified cheer- 
fulness of our usual greeting to a welcome guest. We 
seemed so few since even the year before, and how cordially 
our hearts welcomed the presence which we knew would 
bring into our home cheerful companionship for the happy 
and helpful comfort for the sorrowful. 

The next two days the town was full of lanterns. Every- 
body carried one, every house was decorated with them, 
every street was lined with them, and at night the ceme- 
teries were filled with glow-worm lights; for every grave 
had above it a tiny white lantern swinging from an arch 



THE STORY OF A MARIONETTE 79 

made from stems of pampas grass. It was a happy time 
for all Japan, and the one day in the year when no life 
was taken of fish, fowl, or even insect. The fishermen 
idly wandered about arrayed in holiday garments, the 
chickens cackled and crowed in their bamboo cages, and 
the little crickets, which children love to keep in tiny 
cages, sjJng their shrill song in the trees without the ap- 
proach of a single sticky-topped pole. And charity ex- 
tended loving arms to the farthest limit. No priest 
passed with an\^mpty begging bowl; pampas-woven 
baskets of food weie hidden beneath lotus leaves on the 
graves, waiting for the poor to carry away when the Bon 
lights had burned out; and even the sinners in hell, if 
their hearts longed for salvation, were given another 
chance during the merciful days of Bon. 

Our home was filled with an atmosphere of pleasant 
thoughts, unselfish acts, and happy laughter; for we felt 
that our kind guests enjoyed our simple pleasures of new 
clothes, company courtesies, and our daily feasts with them 
of the shrine food consisting of fruits, vegetables, and rice 
dumplings. Honourable Grandmother’s face grew more 
peaceful each hour. Mother’s beamed with calm content, 
the servants were chattering and smiling all the time, and 
my heart was full of quiet joy. 

In the shadows before sunrise of the fourth day, Jiya 
went for lotus blossoms, and Mother placed fresh food 
before the shrine. When the brightening air outside 
began to quarrel with the soft white lantern inside we 
gathered for the farewell. 

The past days had been happy ones and I think we all 
felt sad when, after the last deep bows. Mother rose and 
lifted the pampas mat from before the shrine. She 
doubled and flattened it, then tied the ends with grass, 
thus forming a rude little canoe, and fixed a hemp-stem 
arch in the centre. The lotus-leaf dishes of food were 



8o 


A DAUGHTER OF THE SAMURAI 


placed within, and some balls of rice and uncooked dough 
added, as O Shorai Sama’s gift to the birds. Then the 
little vegetable animals and all the decorations of the 
shrine were put in, the white fluttering lantern was swung 
from the arch, and, with Jiya carrying the little canoe. 
Mother and I, followed by Ishi and Toshi, went to the 
river. , " 

Morning was just dawning, but the streets were full of 
people and the air crowded with circling birds who seemed 
to know that a treat was before them. /!»When we reached 
the bank, all except Jiya took their places on the bridge 
and watched him make his way down the slippery steps 
cut in the bank, and join the throng below. Each person 
was holding a little canoe with its burden of food and tiny 
swinging lantern. 

“Look,” whispered Ishi, as Jiya lifted his hands to 
strike the flint and steel to light our little lantern, “our 
honourable ancestors will embark on the first tide warmed 
by the sunrise.” 

The silence was unbroken except for the loud cries of 
the birds, then a sudden ray of sunlight shot across a 
distant mountain and hundreds of figures stooped and- 
launched the little canoes. All stood watching as they 
whirled and drifted along in the midst of the storm of 
darting birds screaming their thanks. One upset. 

“My O Shorai Sama has stepped olF and is now in the 
unknown land!” said an old lady, and waiting no longer, 
she climbed the bank and contentedly made her way home. 

As daylight brightened we could see the little boats far 
in the distance rising and falling, the tiny white lanterns 
swinging back and forth. We waited until the sun broke 
into brilliance; then, as the light came racing down the 
mountain-side, a soft, deep murmur rose from the bowing 
figures all along the shores. 

“Farewell, 0 Shorai Sama,” we all gently called. 



THE STORY OF A MARIONETTE 8r 

“Come again next year. We will be waiting to welcome 
you!” 

The crowd scattered, and with satisfied faces, made 
their way homeward. 

Mother and I walked happily along, with Ishi, Toshi, 
and Jiya chatting pleasantly behind us. The anxious 
look tha't Mother’s face had lost during the last few days 
did nor come back, and I felt that Father had really been 
w’ith us bringiii^, comfort and help to us all; and now he 
had gone, leavin^v behind him, not loneliness, but peace. 

That afternoon, as Ishi was putting away my flower 
hair-ornament, she pointed to the shield of polished 
silver set in the midst of the flowers. A crest was carved 
deeply in it, and the cut edges sparkled like jewels. 

“It is not the Inagaki crest,” I said. 

“No, it is the birth crest of Honourable Yedo Grand- 
mother,” said she, closing the little box and putting it 
away. “ It is very wonderful work. Everything Honour- 
able Yedo Grandmother has ever given you is especially 
beautiful or rare.” 

“Honourable Yedo Grandmother never sends a gift 
.to my father or to my mother,” I said. 

“No. To no one but you,” Ishi replied. “She always 
remembers you on the festival to welcome and honour 
the ancestors of the Inagaki.” 

I remembered long afterward that a faint wonder passed 
through my mind at that time that I should be the one 
member of the family who ever received a gift from 
Honourable Yedo Grandmother, but it lasted only a 
moment. A Japanese child rarely asked what was not 
told, and there were so many taken-for-granted things 
in Japanese life, an3rway, that I gave the matter no 
further thought. 

Not until I was grown did I learn that Honourable Yedo 
Grandmother was my father’s own mother, and that my 


8o 


A DAUGHTER OF THE SAMURAI 


placed within, and some balls of rice and uncooked dough 
added, as O Shorai Sama’s gift to the birds. Then the 
little vegetable animals and all the decorations of the 
shrine were put in, the white fluttering lantern was swung 
from the arch, and, with Jiya carrying the little canoe, 
Mother and I, followed by Ishi and Toshi, went to the 
river. ’ 

Morning was just dawning, but the streets were full of 
people and the air crowded with circling birds who seemed 
to know that a treat was before them. /^When we reached 
the bank, all except Jiya took their places on the bridge 
and watched him make his way down the slippery steps 
cut in the bank, and join the throng below. Each person 
was holding a little canoe with its burden of food and tiny 
swinging lantern. 

“Look,” whispered Ishi, as Jiya lifted his hands to 
strike the flint and steel to light our little lantern, “our 
honourable ancestors will embark on the first tide warmed 
by the sunrise.” 

The silence was unbroken except for the loud cries of 
the birds, then a sudden ray of sunlight shot across a 
distant mountain and hundreds of figures stooped and- 
launched the little canoes. All stood watching as they 
whirled and drifted along in the midst of the storm of 
darting birds screaming their thanks. One upset. 

“My O Shorai Sama has stepped off and is now in the 
unknown land!” said an old lady, and waiting no longer, 
she climbed the bank and contentedly made her way home. 

As daylight brightened we could see the little boats far 
in the distance rising and falling, the tiny white lanterns 
swinging back and forth. We waited until the sun broke 
into brilliance; then, as the light came racing down the 
mountain-side, a soft, deep murmur rose from the bowing 
figures all along the shores. 

“Farewell, O Shorai Sama,” we all gently called. 



THE STORY OF.. A MARIONETTE';;:: 

^X'ome again next year. We will be waiting to welcome ^ 
you!’^ ^ : 

The crowd scattered, and with satisfied faces, made 
their way homeward. . 

Mother and I walked happily along, with Ishi, Toshi, 
and Jiya chatting pleasantly behind us. The anxious 
look that Mother’s face had lost during the last few days: 
did nor come back, and I felt that Father had really been 
with us bringin^^ comfort and help to us all; and' now he 
had gone, leaviri^T^hind him, not loneliness, but peace. 

That afternoon, as Ishi was putting away my flower 
hair-ornament, she pointed to the shield of polished 
silver set in the midst of the flowers. A crest was carved 
deeply in it, and the cut edges sparkled like jewels. 

^Tt is not the Inagaki crest,” I said. 

*^No, it is the birth crest of Honourable Yedo Grand- 
mother,” said she, closing the little box and putting it 
away. It is very wonderful work. Everything Honour- 
able Yedo Grandmother has ever given you is especially 
beautiful or rare.” 

‘Tionourable Yedo Grandmother never sends a gift 
.to my father or to my mother,” I said. 

''No. To no one but you,” Ishi replied. "She always 
remembers you on the festival to welcome and honour 
the ancestors of the Inagaki.” 

I remembered long afterward that a faint wonder passed 
through my mind at that time that I should be the one 
member of the family who ever received a gift from 
Honourable Yedo Grandmother, but it lasted only a 
moment. A Japanese child rarely asked what was not 
told, and there were'' so many taken-for-granted things 
in Japanese life, anyway, ; that I gave the , matter. nO' 
further thought. 

Not until I was grown 'did I learn that' Honourable Yedo' ': 
Grandmother was my father’s own mother, and that my 


82 A DAUGHTER OF THE SAMURAI 

dear Honourable Grandmother, to whom I owed so much, 
was in reality my great-grandmother. 

When my grandfather died suddenly, leaving Father, 
at the age of seven, as his heir. Honourable Grandmother 
became the mistress of her dead son’s home and the 
mother of his child. That the young widow. Father’s 
mother, did not remain in her own home, was one of the 
tragedies of our family system, which, wise as it was when 
made, has resulted in many wrongs, as mu/i always be the 
case when the world moves too swiftly a,Bm customs slowly 
lag behind. 

The Restoration of 1868 was not a sudden event. There 
had been political agitation for years, in which the world 
of Japan was divided into two factions — ^those who be- 
lieved that the Imperial power should include both sacred 
and secular duties, and those who believed the shogun, as 
military ruler, should take all national burdens from the 
shoulders of the sacred Emperor. 

|My grandfather believed in the restoration of Imperial 
power, but his wife’s father, being a hatamoto—hody- 
guard of the shogun — ^was, of course, a strong advocate 
of the opposing party. Personally, the two men were - 
friends, but each was strongly loyal to his own principles 
and to his overlord. 

Grandfather’s death took place very suddenly when he 
was in Tokyo (then called Yedo) on official duty. It is 
said that he was taken violently and mysteriously ill 
just after being elaborately entertained at the mansion of 
his father-in-law. At the feast were present a number of 
ardent politicians. That my grandfather understood the 
political significance of the gathering was shown, when, 
after his death, it was discovered that he had gone to the 
feast wearing beneath his usual ceremonial dress his white 
death robe. 

In those days, when the heart of Japan was beating 


THE STORY OF A MARIONETTE 83 

violently and she .was pushing 'hard against the set, hut 
questioned, control of ages, ■ such . an event :was not so 
unusual; nor was my grandfather's quiet acceptance ;of, 
Ms fate so rare. It was only samurai loyalty to a cause,; 
and ' samurai bravery in accepting defeat. ■ Standards.: 
differ, in different countries, but everywhere we are ex-,, 
pected to he loyal and to be brave. 

But' the tragedy of it came to the girl wife — my grand- 
mother, who w%s little more than twenty years old when- 
she became a wii?nw. Under ordinary circumstances she 
would -have been the honoured widow^-mother of the 
seven-year-old heir~my father; but because of the well- 
understood though outwardly ignored situation, there 
was but one thing for this proud, deeply humiliated 
woman to do. Whether she was the sacrifice of her 
father's ambition, or of his loyalty, I do not know, but she 
^‘humbly abdicated" from her husband's family, and 
changing her name Inagaki to the death name, returned to 
her former home. According to the ideals of that time, 
this was the most dishonoured position that any samurai 
woman could hold. It was scorned as would be that of 
a soldier who goes bravely to the battlefield and cowardly 
returns home before fighting has begun. 

For a few years the young widow lived a quiet life in 
her father's home devoting her time to classic literature 
and cultural attainments; then she was offered an im- 
portant position as lady official in the mansion of the 
daimio of Satsuma. 

This was just the time when Satsuma was playing 
a conspicuous part in histo.ry. It was this daimiate 
which, single-handed, challenged the entire British Eastern 
Squadron, after the young' -samurai of the clan had killed 
Mr. Richardson, a British merchant who bo-idiy crossed 
the ceremonial procession of their' overlord. Satsuma was 
the most powerful daim,io in ' Japan and his home, like all 



84 A DAUGHTER OF THE SAMURAI 

high-rank houses during feudal days, was divided into 
two distinct departments: the State and the Home. The 
government of the Home Department was entirely under 
lady officials; and in large mansions with many retainers 
these lady officers had to be as efficient as the ofl&cials 
of the State Department. Among these able retainers 
my grandmother occupied an honoured place. 

Very soon her special gifts were recognized and she 
was chosen as governess to the Iittle/%irl-princess, a 
position which she held until her charge became a bride- 
elect and required teachers for wifehood training. Then 
my grandmother, generously pensioned for life, was 
“honourably released,” this farewell being poetically 
worded “the regretted disappearance of the full moon 
behind folds of cloud, leaving in her wake soft, wide- 
spreading shafts of light, to remain with us always, as 
gentle and lasting memories.” 

I never saw Honourable Yedo Grandmother with my 
human eyes, but I can see her always when I look into my 
heart. Living in the largest daimio mansion in Japan, 
surrounded by wealth and luxury, in the midst of daily 
expressed appreciation of her culture and her natural, 
gifts and with the respect and affection of her much-loved 
young princess always with her, yet her thoughts turned 
to the little granddaughter whom she never saw. It was 
not altogether the call of love, though I like to think that 
was there also. She was groping over a new and puzzling 
path, striving to find awaytokeep faithful to her wifely vow. 

Her lifework, through no fault or neglect of her own, 
had been taken from her; but unflinchingly — as is the 
Samurai way — she held her broken duty to her heart and, 
as long as she lived sent each year one of her closest per- 
sonal possessions to the little granddaughter who was said 
to resemble her, even to her curly hair, to be worn in a 
welcome greeting to the spirits of the Inagaki family to 


THE STORY OF A 

whom she could no longer bow, but to whom her duty 
was due. Her helplessness was tragedy. Her efforts were 
pathos. But to her best, and to the last, she was true. 

Standards of duty differ on opposite sides of the world, 
but Japanese people never flinch at its call. Many a boy 
and girl not yet in their teens, many a man and woman 
at the time of brightest promise, many of the aged have 
gone alone to a distant province, and among strangers 
have become ^f them— body, brain, and spirit. But 
even among bea^-tiful surroundings, if duty lies behind, 
undone, nothing, while life lasts, can break the heart pull, 
the brain planning, the soul prayer to reach, even partially, 
the lost goal. Such is the deep-hidden soul of Japan. 

When the young princess bade farewell to my grand- 
mother, she presented her, as the highest token of grateful 
and affectionate appreciation, something which she herself 
had worn — a dress bearing her own crest. Many years 
afterward, for the Bon festival when I was ten years old, 
my grandmother sent this choice treasure to me. I well 
remember that day. Ishi had taken me to my room to 
dress for the evening of welcome. Hanging over one of the 
large lacquer frames on which we spread our clothing to 
air or to wait until we were ready, was a beautiful summer 
dress of pale blue linen decorated with an exquisite design 
of the seven grasses of autumn. It seemed to me the most 
beautiful thing that I had ever seen in my life. 

“Oh, Ishi,” I cried, “is this beautiful dress for me?” 

“Yes, Etsu-bo Sama. Honourable Yedo Grandmother 
has sent it to you for the festival.” 

It was too large for me and Toshi had to take deep 
tucks at the shoulders and waist. When I dressed I Went 
to show myself to Honourable Grandmother and Mother, 
then I went to Father’s room. 

“I have come!” I announced, kneeling outside the closed 
door, ready to open it. ^ 


86 A DAUGHTER OF THE SAMURAI 

“Enter!” came the response from within. 

I pushed back the shoji. Father was reading. He 
looked up with a smile; then what was my surprise to see 
him, after one glance at me, quickly slip from his cushion 
and with slow dignity dramatically announce, “Enter the 
Princess of Satsuma!” 

Then he made a deep bow. 

Of course my own little head was down to the floor in 
an instant, and though when I lifted it was laughing, 
still I felt, in some subtle way, that th^e was something 
deeper beneath his smile than just his humorous obeisance 
to the crest of a superior clan : a combined pride and grief, 
and perhaps pain also— like the cruel ache in the heart 
of a strong man whose sword arm is helpless. 



CHAPTER X 


THE DAY OF THE BIRD 

B rother had been at home a year when the letters 
from his fJ^nd in America began coming more fre- 
quently. After 'each one Grandmother, Brother, and 
Mother would have long talks, and not all of them were 
happy ones. In a vague way I sometimes thought these 
discussions had something to do with me; and one day 
was a little troubled when a long conference ended by 
Brother’s abruptly coming out of the room with only a 
short bow that was almost rude. He started swiftly 
toward the door, then turning, came back and stood by 
ray side, looking steadily at me for a moment. But he 
went on without saying a word. 

Several weeks later a thick, heavy letter came, one with 
many stamps; and after another talk in Grandmother’s 
room. Brother sent Jiya out with the long lacquer box 
tied with a cord which I knew held a ‘‘rounding letter” 
for all the relatives. Jiya would wait at each place for 
it to be read before carrying it on to the next place. That 
afternoon I noticed Mother was very thoughtful and 
quiet; and Grandmother sat by her fire-box, silent and 
stern, with her long, slender pipe in her hand. The tiny 
bowl held only three puiFs, and, after refilling it twice, she 
always put it away, but she seemed to have forgotten it 
that day and sat holding it a long time. 

The next day there was a meeting of the family council. 
It has always been a Japanese custom to decide im- 
portant family problems by calling an assembly of the 

87 


88 


A DAUGHTER OF THE SAMURAI 

older relatives. There had been family councils ever 
since I could remember, but, being the youngest of the 
family, and a girl, I was not concerned in them, and I 
never gave more than a passing thought as to whether this 
time it would mean the selling of another piece of land 
or of one of our roll pictures. We had been selling things 
all my life. Sister and I were so accustomed to seeing 
the second-hand man go into the big plaster storehouse 
with old Jiya that we made a practice of paying a guessing 
game as to whether he would come outwith a small pack- 
age in his hand or a big bundle on his shoulders. Mother 
used to look troubled when a group of men came to look at 
things, but Father would laugh and say, “Useless beauty 
had a place in the old life, but the new asks only for ugly 
usefulness.” 

But one thing Father never laughed about. Whenever 
negotiations were pending in regard to land he was always 
watchful. The outside limits of our once large estate 
had gradually been withdrawn within the wall, and year by 
year they were closing in nearer to the house; but Father 
would never part with any portion of the garden over- 
looked by Grandmother’s room. After his death Brother 
was equally considerate; so as long as she lived, Grand- 
mother could gaze out upon the garden, the stream, and 
the little slope of azaleas against the background of 
feathery bamboo just as she had done for years. 

This family council was the largest that had been held 
since Father’s death. Two gray-haired uncles were there 
with the aunts, besides two other aunts, and a young uncle 
who had come all the way from Tokyo on purpose for this 
meeting. They had been in the room a long time, and 
I was busy writing at my desk when I heard a soft “Allow 
me to speak!” behind me, and there was Toshi at the door, 
looking rather excited. 

“Little Mistress,” she said with an unusually deep bow, 


, .THE DAY OF THE BIRD ■ ' : S9 

*^'your ' honoiirable mother ^ asks vyou to' go to' the :Toom 
, where the guests ■ are/'^ 

' : I entered the big room. Brothe'r was sitting by the 
tokommay and next to him were two gray-haired' un.cles' 
and' the young uncle from, Tokyo. Opposite sat Honourable 
Grandmother, the four aunts, and Mother. Tea had been 
served and all had cups before them or in their hands* 
As I pushed back the door they looked up and gazed at 
me as if they RNtd never seen me before. I was a little 
startled, but of course I made a low, ceremonious bow. 
Mother motioned to me, and I slipped over beside her on 
the mat. 

‘^Etsu-ko,^^ Mother said very gently, ^^the gods have 
been kind to you, and your destiny as a bride has been 
decided. Your honourable brother and your venerable 
kindred have given much thought to your future. It 
is proper that you should express your gratitude to the 
Honourable AlI.^V 

I made a long, low bow, touching my forehead to the 
floor. Then I went out and returned to my desk and my 
writing, I had no thought of asking, “Who is it?’' I 
did not think of my engagement as a personal matter at 
all It was a family affair. Like every Japanese girl, I 
had known from babyhood that sometime, as a matter 
of course, I should marry, but that was a far-away ne- 
cessity to be considered when the time came. I did not 
look forward to it. I did not dread it. I did not think 
of it at all. The fact that I was not quite thirteen had 
nothing to do with it. That was the attitude of all girls. 

The formal ceremony of the beti'othal took place some 
months later. It was not an elaborate affair, like a 
wedding, but was very important; for in old-fashioned 
families the betrothal was considered as sacred as the 
marriage itself, and indeed it could not be nearly so easily 
broken as might be the marriage tie. 


A DAUGHTER OF THE SAMURAI 


90 

There was an air of quiet excitement in the whole house 
that day. The servants, who always felt a personal 
interest in everything that happened in the family, had 
hung weather dolls of folded paper on the nanten bush 
near the porch, to insure sunshine, and were jubilant over 
the result; and even Mother, who always seemed more 
calm when she was excited, went around giving unneces- 
sary directions to various maids. “ Be careful in powder- 
ing Etsu-ko Sama’s face,’’ I heard her to Ishi. “Get 
the paint smooth.” And when the hairdresser arrived 
Mother made a second trip to the room to give a special 
order that Etsu-ko Sama’s hair must be pulled straight. 

As soon as I was dressed, I went to Grandmother’s 
room for morning greetings. Her kindly smile was more 
gentle than usual, and we had a pleasant talk before 
breakfast was announced. As we were leaving the room 
she reminded me that it was the Day of the Bird. 

“Yes, I know,” I said. “A betrothal ceremony always 
takes place on the Day of the Bird. Honourable Grand- 
mother, why is it?” 

“Be not ambitious to be vain!” she said, smiling and 
resting her farm on my shoulder as we walked down the 
porch. “This day was chosen by your relatives with the 
kind wish that good fortune will bless your life with silks 
and brocades as plentiful as are the feathers of the birds.” 

Matsuo’s aged uncle, Mr. Omori, had arrived from 
Kyoto a few days before and had been entertained at the 
home of the go-between. The ceremony had to take place 
in the waxing rather than the waning of the day; so about 
the middle of the forenoon, when I went into the best 
room, I found the others already assembled. Matsuo’s 
uncle was seated on a cushion near the tokonoma. He sat 
very straight and had a pleasant face. I liked him. Grand- 
mother, Brother, Mother, and the two go-betweens were 
there, and I sat beside Mother, The woman go-between 



THE DAY OF THE BIRD 


91 


brought to me a small white table with a square of crepe 
'■over it, on which was Matsuo’s crest. It was the engage- 
ment gift from' his family, and I was looking for the first' 
time. upon the crest that I should have to wear all my life;,, 
but I did not seriously realize it. Another tray held other 
gifts, the most important of which was a pair of folding 
fans, signifying a wish for constantly widening happiness. 

Then Toshi brought into the room two trays and set 
them before Omori. It was my family’s gift to 
Matsuo. 

Of course, I had been told exactly what to do; so I 
lifted the square of crepe from my table, displaying a roll 
of magnificent brocade for a sash. On Mr. Omori’s tables 
were the essential pair of fans and a wide-pleated silk skirt 
called hakama—tht regulation dress for a Japanese gentle- 
man. These have been the betrothal gifts from time 
immemorial. 

I bowed most formal thanks, and Mr. Omori did the 
same. Then the gifts were placed on the tohonoma^ and 
everybody, even Grandmother, made a slight bow and 
murmured, ^^Congratulations!” 

. Soon after, the maids brought the small tables for our 
dinner, placing those for the gentlemen on one side of the 
room and those for the ladies on the other. Then Toshi, 
with her tray, took her place in the open space at the end 
of the two lines, each person made a slight bow, and the 
dinner commenced. The conversation was general and 
the guests seemed to have a pleasant time, but, of course, 

I was very quiet, and dignified.. ' : ' 

The most interesting part of the day to me came after 
everyone had gone and Ishi was taking olF my dress. She 
eyed my head very M Etsu-bo:: 

Sama,” she said. '/Tt was such-; luck that to-day was 
cold and dry. Your hair has,; not"' one .bit , of a crinklei’^: 

For once my unruly hair':ha'd;:not disgraced, my 


A DAUGHTER OF THE SAMURAI 


92 

and' giviBg^a placed' my head carefully upon 

my little woo pillow and went contentedly to sleep. 

After my betrothal my life was a sort of make-believe 
game^ for my education as a wife began that very day. 
I had already received the usual training in cooking, 
sewing, and various household duties, as well as flower- 
arranging, tea-serving, and other womanly accomplish- 
ments; but now I had to put these things into practice 
as if I were already in my husband’s horned I was expected 
to select without assistance the proper flowers, the suitable 
roll picture and tokonoma ornament, and see that the 
house was always arranged according to certain established 
rules. 

Every moment my life was filled with training and 
preparation. The object was not explained to me, for 
this education was a taken-for-granted part of every 
betrothal; and it happened in my case that no special 
explanation was necessary other than that I had to be 
careful not in any way to show disrespect to wood-sorrel 
since Matsuo’s crest was conventionalized wood-sorrel. 
Except that I had to learn to like tuna, which was a 
favourite dish of Matsuo’s and which I had never cared for^ 
my diet was not aflFected at all by my betrothal. Sister 
had a long training, for she had been betrothed five years, 
including the year of postponement on account of Father’s 
death. As her expected husband’s crest was conven- 
tionalized plum, she never, during the five years, tasted 
plum, even in jelly. It would have been disrespectfuL 

The hardest thing I did that year was to learn how to 
make a sleeping cushion. I loved to sew and was rather 
skillful with the needle, but I had never made anything by 
myself. Ishi or Toshi had always helped me. But every 
Japanese housewife had to know how to make cushions, 
for they were our chairs and our beds; so Mother said 
that I must make a sleeping-cushion entirely alone. This 


THE DAY OF THE BIRD 


93 

was a difficult thing for any one to do, and my sleeves 
were wet with foolish tears when for the fourth time I 
pulled out the threads and turned the immense cushion 
inside out, in order to refit the corners, w-hich, in spite of 
my persistent efforts, would stay twisted. 

Another of my duties was the preparation, on anni- 
versaries and at festival times, of a shadow table for my 
absent fiance. On these days I myself cooked the food 
which Brother t(Sd us Matsuo especially liked. His table 
was placed next to mine and I arranged for it to be always 
served before my own. Thus I learned to be watchful 
for the comfort of my prospective husband. Grandmother 
and Mother always spoke as if Matsuo were present, 
and I was as careful of my dress and conduct as if he had 
really been in the room. Thus I grew to respect him and 
to respect my own position as his wife. 

Most of the memories of that time are like faint heart- 
throb phantoms now, but one always stands out clear and 
strong. That has to do with a birthday. Japanese 
people do not, as a rule, observe individual birthdays. 
Instead, it is the custom to celebrate New Year as a 
birthday for each person of the nation. This gives a 
double meaning to the day and makes New Year the most 
joyously celebrated of any festival of the year. But in our 
house one especial birthday was always honoured. That 
was Matsuo’s. This was not on my account. From 
the time Mother had learned of his kindness to Brother, 
never did a January 8th pass that we did not have an 
elaborate dinner with a table for Matsuo in the place 
of honour as our guest. Mother always kept up this 
custom, and in later years, when in a far-distant land, 

I have thought with a mist in my eyes of the birthday 
table in my mother’s home in the mountains of Japan. 

During these months Mother and I came closer to each 
other than we had ever been before. She did not confide 


94 A DAUGHTER OF THE SAMURAI 

in me— that was not Mother’s way — but it seemed that an 
invisible cord of sympathy was drawing our hearts to- 
gether. I had always greatly admired my mother, but 
there was a little awe mixed with my admiration. Father 
had been my comrade and my friend as well as my wise 
adviser; and my whole heart was filled with tender love 
for my dear, patient, unselfish Ishi. But Mother was 
aloft, like the sun, flawless and steady, filling the home 
with life-giving warmth, yet too far aw£y to be treated 
familiarly. So I was surprised one day, when she came 
quietly to my room and told me there was something 
she wanted to speak to me about before she told Grand- 
mother. Our house had received word from the go- 
between that Matsuo had removed to a city in the eastern 
part of America, and had gone into business for himself. 
On this account he had decided not to return to Japan 
for several years, and asked that I be sent to him there. 

Mother always accepted inevitable circumstances with 
calm resignation, but this was a very unusual and puzzling 
situation. For generations Japanese mothers, believing 
that the destined home for every girl is settled by the 
gods, have sent their daughters as brides to distant prov- 
inces; so my going to America was not a matter of deep 
concern. But for a bride to go into a home where there 
was neither mother-in-law nor an elder sister of wisdom- 
age to train her in the ways of the new household, was a 
serious problem. And this was not a case that could be 
referred to the family council; for I was as much bound to 
Matsuo as if I were already married, and in his affairs the 
Inagaki family had no authority. In this strange situation 
Mother turned to me, and for the first time in my life I was 
consulted in a family matter. I think I changed from 
girl to woman in that hour of conversation with my mother. 

We decided that, at least for the present, there was but 
one problem for us to face. That was how to prepare for 



THE DAY OF THE BIRD 


95 

an unknown life in a strange land. In this my relatives 
could take no part. Of course, all were excited and each 
one volunteered advice; but the only practical suggestion 
came from Brother. He said I must have an English 
education. That meant that I should have to be sent 
to school in Tokyo. 

All that winter the household was busy getting me 
ready for school. The pathos of these preparations I did 
not realize; nor? I think, did any of us. Mother spent 
evening after evening bending her stately head over 
wonderful embroidered garments, ripping out, stitch by 
stitch, the exquisite work of hands folded in rest gener- 
ations ago. Then Ishi would dye the silk and make it 
into plain garments suitable for my school life. 

And many things were sold. Grandmother and Mother 
consented to any sacrifice, though sometimes their faces 
were sad; but Brother seemed to have lost all feeling for 
the precious old belongings and would part with them 
without one expression of regret. 

“Treasures are a useless care,” he often said. “In 
a poor house like ours there is no need to keep dozens of 
chests of retainers’ armour. They had their place in the 
past, but hereafter the sons of our ancestors must fight 
on the battlefield of commerce. Business is the key to 
wealth, and in this new world wealth is the only power.” 

I thought little of it then, but now it aches me to re- 
member the sword-hilt ornaments of exquisite workman- 
ship in gold and silver and bronze that were sold for 
almost nothing; and I can see, even now, how the great 
scales of the dealer in old iron tipped heavily with the 
weight of swords that once were the pride of our humblest 
retainers. 

One cold evening I went into Grandmother’s room and 
snuggled down beside her cushion, close to the fire-box, 
just as I used to do in the days which were beginning to 


96 A DAUGHTER OF THE SAMURAI 

seem to me far in the past. We had grown somewhat 
apart that year. I was no longer the little child she could 
make happy with sweets, could train in politeness and 
teach useful lessons by means of fairy lore; and I felt that, 
much as she loved me, the new conditions that my future 
faced were beyond her old-fashioned comprehension. But 
I learned that night, while I talked with her, that samurai 
training will prepare one for any future. 

As we sat in the quiet room, lighted Only by the soft 
glow of the charcoal fire, she told me how, that very day 
sixty years before, she, as a bride, had left her home in a 
distant province to come to her husband in Nagaoka. 
Most brides of her rank revisited their homes each year 
in a long procession of grandeur, but, though messengers 
were sent with inquiries and gifts every New Year and 
summer-festival season, Grandmother never, after she 
entered the marriage palanquin, saw her home or her 
people again. In those days of slow travel, distance was 
counted by time rather than miles, and hers was a long 
trip. She left home on the night of a full moon, and 
another full moon was in the sky when she was carried 
through the entrance gate of her husband’s home. 

“I was just your age — fourteen,” she said, “and some- 
times as the procession passed through strange provinces, 
climbing over mountains and crossing wide rivers, I 
wondered many things. It was farther than Kyoto that 
I came, and at the gateway of each province there were 
long waits while the officials of the procession exchanged 
papers and received permission for us to pass. At these 
times my nurse always came and remained beside my 
palanquin, and the spear-retainers and ‘six-shoulders’ 
of coolie carriers were with us; so I did not fear. But the 
world seemed very strange and large to me. And the 
people I came to live among were very different from my 
own. The customs were new; even the language had an 



THE DAY OF THE BIRD 


97 

accent and idioms that seemed peculiar. It was like a 
foreign land. And so, of late, I have thought much of you 
and the unknown country to which your fate is taking you. 
Remember, Etsu-bo,” and her voice was strangely tender, 
“where you live is a small matter. The life of a samurai, 
man or woman, is just the same: loyalty to the overlord; 
bravery in defence of his honour. In your distant, 
destined home,., remember Grandmother’s words: loyalty 
to your husband; bravery in defence of his honour. It 
will bring you peace.” 



CHAPTER XI 


MY FIRST JOURNEY 

T hat was one of the long Nagaoka winters. For 
five months we saw only snow. In the early spring 
our relatives in Tokyo had written that arrangements 
had been made for my school. From that time I had been 
waiting impatiently for the mountain roads to become 
safe from avalanches; for just as soon as we could travel 
Brother was to take me to the capital. 

At last the dykes were dry — that was where the snow 
always melted first— and we had a “gathering-green” 
picnic as a farewell to my companions in Nagaoka. One 
sunny morning a group of us, with purple scarfs on our 
heads and kimonos tucked up over our bright skirts, dotted 
the dyke slopes, each carrying a small basket and a bamboo 
knife and filling the air with laughter and merry calls 
as we hurried up and down the banks, trying to see how 
many different kinds of green each could find. Often 
in later years I recall that happy day as my last gay time 
at home as a girl. 

Finally the mail carriers reported that the overhanging 
snow-cliffs had all fallen and the slopes were clear. Soon 
after came the day of our departure. With a heart half 
of elation, half of regret, I bade good-bye to Honourable 
Grandmother and Mother and with misty eyes was care- 
fully tucked into my jinrikisha by Ishi, Then, between 
lines of bowing friends, our two jinrikishas and a baggage- 
laden horse led by a coolie started on the eight-days’ 
journey to Tokyo. 

Most of the way we travelled in jinrikishas, changing 

98 


99 


^ FIRST JOURNEY 

them at certain towns, but occasionally we had to go on 
horseback. My saddle was a high box-seat; so Brother 
and the coolie rigged up a double-basket held by bands 
across the horse’s back. I sat in one part, and baggage 
filled the other. As we went around the steep, curving 
road on the mountain side, I could lean over and look far, 
far down to the fisher villages on the coast. But it was 
more interesting, as we got farther along, to look across the 
deep valley to the sloping hillsides with their terraces 
of ricefields — odd-shaped patches fitted in like the silk 
pieces of a Buddhist priest’s robe. In every little village 
of thatch-roofed huts was a shrine set high in the midst 
of a few trees, and, half-hidden in a hollow beside a stream, 
was whirling the great narroAV wheel of a rice-mill. The 
air was so clear that I could plainly see the awkward lunge 
of a water-buffalo as he dragged a wooden plough along 
the furrows of one of the rice-patches, and I could even 
distinguish a scarlet flower stuck between the folds of the 
towel knotted about the head of the coolie behind. In 
those days no one ever wore a living flower, except to carry 
it to the dead; so I knew he was taking it home for the 
house shrine. I wondered what kind of a home he had. 

I think it was our third day when I noticed that we 
were leaving the snow country. No longer did the towns 
have their sidewalks roofed, and these thatches bore no 
rows of avalanche stones. The houses looked bare and 
odd — like a married woman’s face with newly shaved 
eyebrows. But we were not entirely beyond the sight 
of snow, for as we skirted Myoko Mountain we saw a good 
many drifts and patches. The jinrikisha men said snow 
lasted there until July. 

“From the top,” said Brother, “you can see Fuji- 
yama ” 

My heart thrilled, and I foolishly turned my head, 
feeling for a moment that 1 was really near the sacred 


100 DAUGHTER OF THE SAMURAI V, ' 

mountain which my eyes had never expected to behold. 
And then, with a deeper, warmer thrill, I heard the con- 
closion of his sentence: 

and then, if you turn and look in the opposite 
direction, you can see the plains of Echigo/^ 

We are very far away from home,^^ I replied in a small 
voice. 

Brother gave a quick look at my gravf^ face; then he 
laughed. 

^^Also, if you look just beyond, you can see the Isle of 
Sado. If Matsuo should not come up to expectations, 
here s some advice for you.’’ 

And his merry voice broke into an old song: 

^^Nikuiotoko nikisetai shima wa 
Royagoshi ni Sado ga shimaJ^ 

I was shocked that Brother should sing a common 
servant’s song, and doubly shocked that he should joke 
so lightly about serious things; so my face was still grave 
as we rolled along in our jinrikishas. 

The Isle of Sado used to be a place of exile for criminals 
and was considered by common people as the end of the 
world. This joking song, which is popular among peasant 
girls, is literally a threat to present to a disliked suitor, 
not the pleated garment which is the usual gift of the 
bride to a groom, but instead, a convict’s garb : meaning, 

I pray the gods will send the unwelcome one across the 
raging seas to the end of the world.” 

We spent our fifth night at Nagano in the temple of 
Zenkoji where lived the royal nun beneath whose high-lifted 
razor I had walked, years before, in a procession of gaily 
clad little girls, for a Buddhist ceremony of consecration. 

The next morning, soon after we started, Brother halted 
and allowed my jinrikisha to roll up to his side. 



MY FIRST JOURNEY loi 

*^Etsii-bo/’ he asked, *^when did they give up making, a 
priestess of you?'’^ 

««Why— I don’t know/’ I said, surprised* 

He gave a little scornful laugh and rode on to his place 
ahead leaving me silent and thoughtful 

I had spoken the truth when I said I did not know. I 
had always accepted my education with no thought of 
results. But Brother’s laugh had startled me, and, rolling 
along that mountain road, I did a good deal of thinking. 
At last I believed that I understood. I know my father 
had never approved, although he acquiesced in Honourable 
Grandmother’s wish that I should be educated for a priest- 
ess; and when, after my brother’s sad departure, he had 
quietly substituted studies which would be of benefit should 
I ever hold the position of his heir, I think Honourable 
Grandmother, aching with sympathy for her proud, dis- 
appointed son, laid aside her cherished hope, and the plan 
was silently abandoned. 

In the province of Shinano, an hour or so from Nagano, 
my jinrikisha man pointed across the river to a small 
wooded mountain. 

^'^Obatsuyama, it is,” he said. 

How my mind went back to Ishi and her mother-love 
story which tells of a time long, long ago, when there 
lived at the foot of this mountain a poor farmer and his 
aged widowed mother. They owned a bit of land which 
supplied them with food and their humble lives were peace- 
ful and happy. 

At that time Shinano was governed by a despotic ruler 
who, though a brave warrior, had a great and cowardly 
shrinking from anything suggestive of fading health and 
strength. This caused him to send out a cruel proclama- 
tion. The entire province' was given strict orders ' immedi-, 
ately to put to death all aged people. 

Those were barbarous days, .and the custom of abandon- 


103 A DAUGHTER OF THE SAMURAI 


ing old people to die was not uncommon. However, it was 
not a law, and many of the helpless old lived as long as 
nature allowed in comfortable and welcome homes. The 
poor farmer loved his aged mother with tender reverence, 
and the order filled his heart with sorrow. But no one 
ever thought a second time about obeying the mandate 
of a daimio, so with many deep and hopeless sighs the 
youth prepared for what at that time wa^ considered the 
kindest mode of death. 

Just at sundown, when his day’s work was ended, he 
took a quantity of the unwhitened rice which is the prin- 
cipal food of the poor, cooked and dried it, and tying it 
in a square of cloth he swung the bundle around his neck 
along with a gourd filled with cool, sweet water. Then 
he lifted his helpless old mother to his back and started on 
his painful journey up the mountain. 

The road was long and steep. He plodded steadily on, 
the shadows growing deeper and deeper, until the moon, 
round and clear, rose above the mountain-top and peered 
pityingly through the branches upon the youth toiling 
onward, his head bent with weariness and his heart heavy 
with sorrow. The narrow road was crossed and recrossed 
by many paths made by hunters and wood-cutters. In 
some places they mingled in a confused puzzle, but he 
gave no heed. One path or another, it mattered not. 
On he went, climbing blindly upward — ever upward — 
toward the high, bare summit of what is now known as 
Obatsuyama, the mountain of the “Abandoning of the 
Aged.” 

The eyes of the old mother were not so dim out that 
they noted the reckless hastening from one path to an- 
other, and her loving heart grew anxious. Her son did 
not know the mountain’s many paths, and his return 
might be one of danger, so she stretched forth herhand and 
snapping the twigs from the bushes as they passed, she 



MY FIRST JOURNEY 103 

' quietly dropped a handful every few steps of the way, so' 

' as they climbed, the narrow path behind them was dotted 
at frequent intervals with tiny piles of migs* 

At last the summit was reached. Weary and heartsick, 
the youth gently released his burden and silently prepared 
a place of comfort, as his last duty to the loved one. 
Gathering fallen pine needles he made a soft cushion, 
and tenderly lifting his old mother thereon, he wrapped 
her padded coat more closely about the stooping shoulders 
and with tearful eyes and an aching heart said farewell. 

The trembling mother voice was full of unselfish love 
as she gave her last injunction. 

‘Xet not thine eyes be blind, my son. The mountain 
road is full of danger. Look carefully and follow the path 
which holds the piles of twigs. They will guide thee to 
the familiar way farther down."^’ 

The son’s surprised eyes looked back over the path, 
then at the :poor old shrivelled hands all scratched and 
soiled by their work of love. His heart smote him and, 
bowing to the ground, he cried aloud: 

^^Oh, Honourable Mother, thy kindness thrusts my 
heart! I will not leave thee. Together we will follow the 
path of twigs, and together we will die!” 

Once more he shouldered his burden (how light it seemed 
now!) and hastened down the path, through the shadows 
and the moonlight, to the little hut in the valley. 

Beneath the kitchen floor was a walled closet for food, 
which was covered over and hidden from view. There 
the son hid his mother, supplying her with everything 
needful and continually watching and fearing. 

Time passed and he was beginning to feel safe, when 
again the despot sent forth heralds bearing an unreason- 
able and useless order; seemingly as a boast of his power. 
His demand was' that his- subjects' ..should present 'him / 
with a : rope of 'ashes. ^ "The entire province trembled; with'' 


OF THE SAMURAI 


ing old people to die was not uncommon. However, it was 
not a law, and many of the helpless old lived as long as 
nature allowed in comfortable and welcome homes. The 
poor farmer loved his aged mother with tender reverence, 
and the order filled his heart with sorrow. But no one 
ever thought a second time about obeying the mandate 
of a daimio, so writh many deep and hopeless sighs the 
youth prepared for what at that time wa^ considered the 
kindest mode of death. 

Just at sundown, when his day’s work was ended, he 
took a quantity of the unwhitened rice which is the prin- 
cipal food of the poor, cooked and dried it, and tying it 
in a square of cloth he swung the bundle around his neck 
along with a gourd filled with cool, sweet water. Then 
he lifted his helpless old mother to his back and started on 
his painful journey up the mountain. 

The road was long and steep. He plodded steadily on, 
the shadows growing deeper and deeper, until the moon, 
round and clear, rose above the mountain-top and peered 
pityingly through the branches upon the youth toiling 
onward, his head bent with weariness and his heart heavy 
with sorrow. The narrow road was crossed and recrossed 
by many paths made by hunters and wood-cutters. In 
some places they mingled in a confused puzzle, but he 
gave no heed. One path or another, it mattered not. 
On he went, climbing blindly upward — ever upward — 
toward the high, bare summit of what is now known as 
Obatsuyama, the mountain of the “Abandoning of the 
Aged.” 

The eyes of the old mother were not so dim out that 
they noted the reckless hastening from one path to an- 
other, and her loving heart grew anxious. Her son did 
not know the mountain’s many paths, and his return 
might be one of danger,so she stretched forth herhand and 
snapping the twigs from the bushes as they passed, she 



MY FIRST JOURNEY 103 

quietly dropped a handful every few steps of the way, so 
as they climbed, the narrow path behind them was dotted 
at frequent intervals with tiny piles of twigs. 

At last the summit was reached. Weary and heartsick, 
the youth gently released his burden and silently prepared 
a place of comfort, as his last duty to the loved one. 
Gathering fallen pine needles he made a soft cushion, 
and tenderly lii^fing his old mother thereon, he wrapped 
her padded coat more closely about the stooping shoulders 
and with tearful eyes and an aching heart said farewell. 

The trembling mother voice was full of unselfish love 
as she gave her last injunction. 

“Let not thine eyes be blind, my son. The mountain 
road is full of danger. Look carefully and follow the path 
which holds the piles of twigs. They will guide thee to 
the familiar way farther down.” 

The son’s surprised eyes looked back over the path, 
then at the ’poor old shrivelled hands all scratched and 
soiled by their work of love. His heart smote him and, 
bowing to the ground, he cried aloud : 

“Oh, Honourable Mother, thy kindness thrusts my 
heart! I will not leave thee. Together we will follow the 
path of twigs, and together we will die I ” 

Once more he shouldered his burden (how light it seemed 
now!) and hastened down the path, through the shadows 
and the moonlight, to the little hut in the valley. 

Beneath the kitchen floor was a walled closet for food, 
which was covered over and hidden from view. There 
the son hid his mother, supplying her with everything 
needful and continually watching and fearing. 

Time passed and he was beginning to feel safe, when 
again the despot sent forth heralds bearing an unreason- 
able and useless order; seemingly as a boast of his power. 
His demand was that his subjects should present him 
with a rope of ashes. The entire province trembled with 


^the samurai:^^ 

dread. The order must be obeyed; yet who in all Shinano 
:Could make a rope of ashes? 

One night, in great distress, tne son whispered the news 
V to his hidden mother. ■ 

^^Waitf’ she said, will think.’^ 

On the second day she told him what to do. 

‘^Make a rope of twisted straw,^^ she said, ^Then stretch 
it upon a row of flat stones and burn it there on a windless 
night."" 

He called the people together and did as she said, and 
when the blaze had died, behold, upon the stones, with every 
twist and fibre showing perfect, lay a rope of whitened ashes. 

The daimio was pleased at the wit of the youth, and 
praised him greatly, but demanded to know where he had 
obtained his wisdom. 

"^Alas! Alas!"" cried the farmer, ^The truth must be 
told!"" and with many deep bows he related his story. 

The daimio listened, then meditated in silence. Finally 
he lifted his head. 

^^Shinano needs more than the strength of youth,"" he 
said gravely. Ah, that I should have forgotten the well- 
known saying, ^With the crown of snow, there cometh 
wisdom!’"" 

That very hour the cruel law was abolished, and the 
custom drifted into so far a past that only the legend 
remains. 

As we went farther on, I found the customs so different 
from those of Nagaoka that I felt as if I were already in a 
strange land. At one place, long before we reached the 
village, we heard a hoarse voice calling, ^^Ma-kaMa? 
Ma-kat-‘ta?^\(ls it sold.^ Is it sold?) and as we rolled 
through the one narrow, crowded street we saw an 
auctioneer standing high in the midst of dozens of bamboo 
baskets of beans, carrots, greens, and bamboo shoots; 
while lying around him, in ungainly confusion, were every 


MY FIRST JOURNEY' 

size and shape of purple eggplant and long^ sprawling, 
delicious lotus roots. 

Brother looked back and laughed. 

‘^Who is he? What were - all the people doing?"'^ !■ 
asked, as soon as we reached the end of the long street and ' 
rolled out on to the public road. 

'^Tt is a vegetable auction/^ Brother explained. '^‘Mer- 
chants buy in quantities, and every morning the things 
are auctioned off by the basketful. Weren't those fine 
lotus roots? If we hadn’t had breakfast only a couple 
of hours ago I’d believe I was hungry.” 

At another place we went by a house wdiere death 
had entered. Before the door stood a funeral palanquin 
into which coolies with big hats and crest-coats were just 
lifting the heavy wooden bucket containing the body. 
Over it was thrown a small kimono of scarlet and gold, 
showing that the dead child must have been a little 
daughter. The dress would have been white for a son. 
Around stood a number of white-robed mourners with 
white towels folded over their hair. As we passed, I 
caught a glimpse of a screen placed upside down and 
the lighted candles of a tiny shrine. 

At one place, where the road ran close to a broad river 
with bold bluffs coming down, in some places, almost to 
the water, we saw a number of odd floating rice-mills 
with turning paddle-wheels that looked like a fleet of 
boats standing motionless in a hopeless struggle against 
a strong tide. I wondered where, in that rocky country, 
were enough people to eat all the rice that was being 
ground; but when we turned away from the river we 
suddenly found ourselves in a silk-culture district, where 
our road ran through village after village, each having 
its own mulberry plantation. 

The town where we expected to spend the night was only 
a few hours ahead when the sky began to darken with' 


OF, THE samurai: ; ■ 

:■ threatening storm . ^ Brother was casting anxious ' looks 
backward when^ his jinrikisha^ man told' him , that in the 
next village was a large house where, travellers had some- 
times been kept for a night. So we hurried there, the 
last quarter of an hour being a bouncing, breathless race 
between men and clouds. The men won, whirling us up 
to the door, into which we ran unannounced, just as the 
storm broke with a downpour which it^would have been 
hard to struggle through on the road. 

It was an odd house where we had found shelter; but I 
know that even my honourable father, on his journeys in 
ancient days, never, on any occasion, received a more 
cordial welcome or more kindly treatment than did we 
and our perspiring, laughing, boasting men at the end of 
our exciting race. 



CHAPTER XII 


TRAVEL EDUCATION 

T he large, well-cared-for house in which we had taken 
refuge that stormy night was crowded full of busy 
workers. With the exception of the living rooms of our 
host, his wife, and two daughters, the entire house was full 
of skeleton frames containing tiers and tiers of bamboo 
trays, each holding a network screen covered with silk- 
worms. There must have been thousands and thousands 
of them. I had been accustomed to silkworms all my life. 
Ishi’s home had been in a weaving village, and my elder 
sister had many silk villages on her three-mountain estate; 
but I never before had spent a night in sound of the 
continual nibbling of the hungry little creatures. It 
filled the whole house with a gentle rustling, exactly like 
the patter of raindrops on dry leaves, and I dreamed all 
night of dripping eaves. The next morning I awakened 
with a depressed feeling that I was to have a day’s ride 
in a close-shut jinrikisha, and was surprised, when I 
pushed back one of the wooden panels at the porch edge, 
to find that the sun was shining. 

While I was standing there, one of the daughters, about 
my age, came out carrying a straw mat of silkworm waste 
to throw on a pile in the yard— for the mulberry stems and 
rice hulls of silkworm waste make the best fertilizer in the 
world — and she stopped to bow good-morning. Then she 
stood there in the June sunshine with her sleeves looped 
back and her bare feet in straw sandals, and I squatted 

107 ■ 


io8 A DAUGHTER OF THE SAMURAI 

on the edge of the porch in my home-dyed night kimono, 
and we got acquainted. 

She told me that she took care of six trays of silkworms 
all by herself. She seemed to know everything about 
them, and she loved them. 

“They're clean,” she said, “and dainty about food, and 
intelligent about their own affairs — ^just like people.” 

I was so interested in all the surprising things I heard 
that I was still listening when a girl came to fold away my 
bed cushions, and I had to hurry to get dressed. 

“Well,” said Brother, after my room had been cleaned, 
and breakfast brought in, “how do you like living in a 
boarding house ? ” 

“The boarders are very noisy,” I replied; “and, from 
what our hostess’s daughter told me, they are very 
particular. She says they cannot endure one particle of 
dust. Even a withered leaf will sometimes cause one to 
‘tie on his blue neckerchief’ and creep to the outer edge 
of the tray.” 

“Have you seen our host’s grandmother?” asked 
Brother. 

“No, I didn’t know there was a grandmother.” 

“She went early to her cushions last night; probably to 
escape the bustle and annoyance of our abrupt arrival. 
We will pay our respects to her before we leave.” 

When breakfast was over, our host took us to the grand- 
mother’s room. She was a very old lady with a reserved 
manner and a face of more than usual intelligence. As 
soon as she bowed I knew that she had been trained in a 
samurai house, and when I saw the crest of a naginata on 
the wall-rest above the shoji, I knew why Brother had 
wanted me to come to this room. 

A naginata is a long, light spear with curved blade, 
which samurai women were taught to use, partly for 
exercise and partly for defence in case of necessity. This 



TRAVEL EDUCATION 


109 

one bore the crest of one of our northern heroes. He was 
a traitor, but nevertheless he was a hero. When he was 
killed, his daughter was one of the group — three of them 
women^ — ^who defended the sorely pressed castle during 
the last desperate hours of hopeless struggle. The old lady 
told us, with modest pride, that she had been a humble 
attendant of the daughter and was with her at that dread- 
ful time. The naginata was a memory gift from her 
honourable and beloved mistress. 

Seeing that we were deeply interested, she brought out 
her other treasure — a slender, blunt knife called a kogai, 
which, with the throwing-dagger, forms part of the hilt 
of a samurai’s long sword. In very ancient days Japanese 
warfare was a science. Artistic skill was always displayed 
in the use of weapons, and no soldier was proud of having 
wounded an enemy in any other manner than the one 
established by strict samurai rule. The long sword had 
for its goal only four points: the top of the head, the 
wrist, the side, and the leg below the knee. The throwing- 
dagger must speed on its way, true as an arrow, direct to 
forehead, throat, or wrist. But the blunt little kogai 
had many uses. It was the key that locked the sword in 
its scabbard; when double it could be used as chopsticks 
by the marching soldier; it has been used on the battlefield, 
or in retreat, mercifully to pierce the ankle vein of a suffer- 
ing and dying comrade, and it had the unique use in a 
clan feud, when found sticking upright in the ankle of a 
dead foe, of bearing the silent challenge, “I await thy 
return.” Its crest told to whom it belonged and, in time, 
it generally was returned — to its owner’s ankle. The 
kogai figures in many tales of romance and revenge of the 
Middle Ages. 

I was glad to see Brother so interested, and was happy 
myself in watching the old lady’s face flush and light up 
with her memories; but her closing words made me feel 


no A DAUGHTER OF THE SAMURAI 

sorry. To some remark of Brother’s she replied, “Youth 
is always listening eagerly for marching orders; but the 
aged can only look backward to sad memories and hope- 
less dreams.” 

As I mounted my jinrikisha and bowed again to the 
entire group of family and servants bowing in the doorway, 
I could not help sending a thought farewell to the busy 
little boarders. I had learned more about silkworms 
during that short rustling visit than Tn my fourteen 
years of life in a silkworm district. As we rolled along 
over a smooth, monotonous road my mind was busy, and I 
believe that then and there I first began to realize — 
vaguely — ^that all creatures, however insignificant, were 
“intelligent about their owm affairs — ^just like people.” 

“Dear me!” I finally said to myself. “How much we 
learn when we travel!” and I pulled the jinrikisha robe 
over my lap and settled myself for the long ride ahead. 

I think I must have gone to sleep, for I found myself 
crookedly but comfortably snuggled into almost a kinoji 
when I heard Brother’s voice. 

We were entering a good-sized town and he was leaning 
back and pointing across the tiled roofs to a castle on the 
hill beyond. 

“This is Komoro,” he called, “and there’s where the 
foot-high dolls came from.” 

I smiled as my mind flew back to the Nagaoka home 
and pictured two enormous dolls of the festival set brought 
by our Komoro great-great-grandmother with her wedding 
dowry. In her day the Government permitted only the 
daughter of a daimio to own dolls a foot high, and her 
entire set must have been wondrously handsome. But in 
my time, when our living came principally from the 
visits of the second-hand man to our godown, the wonder- 
ful Komoro dolls, with their miniature furniture of gold 
and lacquer — ^the perfection of Japanese art of the Middle 


TRAVEL EDUCATION 


III 


Ages — ^gradually found new homes. They went, I know, 
to no godown of Japan, but, through some shrewd dealer, 
into foreign hands and foreign lands and probably to-day 
are calmly resting in widely scattered homes and museums 
of Europe or America. 

Two of the dolls had become defaced in some way, and 
thus, being unsaleable, they were placed as ornaments on 
the high tokonofiia shelf in my room. I was very fond of 
acting out scenes of the stories that were told me, and I 
used to take down the dolls and use them as an audience 
while I strutted around the room representing an ancient 
samurai with some fearful duty to perform. The dolls’ 
heads were movable, and thus supplied a splendid oppor- 
tunity for a favourite revenge story of mine. Many a 
time I have placed my hand on one of the enamelled heads 
and, with my ivory paper knife as a sword, have struck 
fiercely at the doll, at the same instant lifting out the head 
from its collar of rich brocade; then, with stern, set face, 
I would hurriedly wrap the head in a purple square of 
crepe and, tucking it under my arm, stride boldly off to an 
imaginary courtroom. 

I suspect my father knew of this barbarous game of 
mine, for I always borrowed his purple crepe fukusa for 
this purpose, feeling that something belonging to him 
would give dignity to the occasion; but I never heard 
Honourable Grandmother’s step on the porch that I did 
not quickly restore the head to its brocade nest in order 
to save her another anxious fear that I was growing too 
bold and rough ever to find a husband. 

As our jinrikishas rolled through the town I looked up 
at the castle with interest. And this was the home from 
which our Komoro grandmother had gone forth on her 
wedding journey to Nagaokal Half buried in trees it 
stood, the gray, tipped-up corners of many roofs peeping 
through the branches. It looked like a broad, low pa- 


■mz daughter of . the samurai > 

goda towering above a slanting wall of six-sided stones—:; 
^ the '^tortoise back^’ of all Japanese castles. 

From: Komoro to Nagaoka! It must have seemed a. 
long trip to the 5mung girl in the teetering bridal kago ! I 
thought of what Honourable Grandmother had told me 
of her own month-long bridal trip. And then I looked 
ahead. The Idzumo gods, who plan all marriages, had 
decreed the same fate for many brides of^our family, and, 
so far as my own future was planned, I seemed destined 
to follow in the footsteps of my ancestors. 

At one place where we had to take kagos I disgraced 
myself. I dreaded a kago. The big basket swinging from 
the shoulders of the trotting coolies always made me dizzy 
and faint, but that day it was raining hard and the 
mountain path was too rough for a jinrikisha. I stood 
things as bravely as I could, but finally I became so sick 
that Brother had the baggage taken off the horse and, 
wedging me in between cushions on its back, covered me 
with a tent made of a straw mat and, disdaining comfort 
for himself, walked all the way up the mountain beside 
me, the coolie following with the two kagos. 

At the top the sun was shining, and when I peeped out 
from my tent Brother was shaking himself as my poor 
Shiro used to do when drenched with rain. I ventured 
to apologize in a shamed voice. 

sickness is a great absorber of pride, Etsu-bo. 
Fm afraid you have lost your right to be called your 
father’s ^ brave son.’ 

I laughed, but my cheeks were hot. 

As he helped me to the ground. Brother pointed toward 
a wide-spreading cloud of smoke floating lazily above a 
cone-shaped mountain. 

^"^That’s the signpost for the Robber Station,” he said. 

Do you remember?” 

Indeed I did. Many times I had heard Father tell the 


TRAVEL EDUCATION 


113 

■story, of the .small hotel at the top of a mountain where,, the 
. rates .were so high that people calk'd ' it ' the ' Robber 
.'Station/,.,: I was a big girl before I learned that it. was a 
, very respectable stopping place and not a den of .thieves 

■ where money was extorted from travellers as tribute. : . 

dowm the mountain, passing .several cave, 
shrines. ' In one I caught the twinkle of a burning lamp. 
It reminded mei)f the hermit caves of Echigo. This was 
niy first' long trip from home, and it was full of strange new 

■ experiences. Yet there seemed to be familiar memories 
connected with everything. I wondered vaguely ' if I 
should find it so in America. 

One day, after a shower, as the man stopped to lower 
the top of my jinrikisha, a sudden burst of sunshine showed 
me, high up on the mountain-side, pressed flat against the 
green, an immense white dai^ the Japanese character mean- 
iiig ''great.^^ It looked as if it had been painted wdth a 
brush, but Jiya, wdio had once been there, had told me 
that it was made of strips of bamboo covered thickly wdth 
paper prayers tied on by pilgrim visitors to the temple 
on top of the mountain. 

Near by was the rude little village where Miyo lived. 
She was Jiya^s sister, and we spent the night in her house. 
It was a queer place, a sort of cheap hotel for country 
people. Miyo, with her son and his wife, met us at the 
door with deep bows and many a ^‘Maa! Maa of 
surprise and pleasure. The wide entrance ' opened into' a,; 
big roomliaving a clay floor. , Several casks bound with: ' 
hoops of twisted bamboo were piled in one corner, and 
from the smoky ceiling hung, a bulging bag of grain, 
bunches of mochi cakes and dried fish, and bamboo baskets 
containing provisions of various kinds. 

We passed through a ' mob ^,of: chattering pilgrims who " 
had just come down from .the; -'mountain, . and, 
the stones of a crude little g.arden, reaGhed the rooms :' 


H4 A DAUGHTER OF THE SAMURAI 

where Miyo lived. Everything was clean, but the paper 
doors were patched, the mats yellow with age, and the 
cloth bindings worn almost through. Miyo must have 
had a rather hard time in the past; for she was an inde- 
pendent character who, in violation of all tradition, had 
cast olF a worthless husband and brought up her four 
children herself. Of course it was very low class to do a 
thing like that, but she was as brave as a, man, and, since 
her husband had no parents, she had been able legally to 
keep the children herself. 

Miyo had been a servant in our house when Brother was 
a child, and her delight in seeing the “Young Master” was 
pathetic. Her bare feet went pattering over the mats, 
slipping quickly into her sandals each time she crossed the 
door-sill to the kitchen. She hurried here and there, 
bringing us the best she had and offering everything with 
bows and apologies. One thing troubled her very much. 
She had only wooden trays with no feet, and she had never 
known my brother to eat off a low tray. In the days 
when she lived at our house, even an informal serving 
of cake was presented to him on a high lacquer stand, just 
as it was to Father. But she was ingenious, and presently 
she brought in a brassbound rice-bucket and with many 
bows and an anxious “Please grant your honourable 
pardon!” placed the tray on it before Brother. He 
laughed heartily and said that even a shogun had never 
received a similar honour. 

We sat up very late and had a most interesting time. 
Brother talked of past days and of many things about our 
home, so little known to me that I felt as if I were reading 
some old, half-familiar book. I had never known him to 
be so free and merry as he was that evening. And Miyo, 
half laughter and half tears, talked rapidly, asking many 
questions and interrupting herself continually. She was 


TRAVEL EDUCATION 115 

reminding him of some incident of his childhood, when he 
abruptly asked: “What became of your ‘own-choice’ 
husband, Miyo?” 

I thought that question was too cruel, but Miyo calmly 
replied: “Young Master, ‘The rust of one’s own sword can 
be brightened only by one’s own effort. ’ I am still paying 
the penalty of my life mistake.” 

Very gravelj'^-she went across the room to a big chest 
and took out a small, flat package. It was a square of 
purple crepe bearing our crest. With a serious face she 
unfolded it, showing a brocade charm bag such as we 
children used to wear to hold the paper blessing of the 
priest. The gold threads were a little ravelled and the 
heavy scarlet cord mellowed with age. 

Miyo lifted it reverently to her forehead. 

“The Honourable Mistress gave it to me,” she said to 
Brother, “the night she let my lever and me through the 
water gate. It held square silver coins — all that I 
needed.” 

“Ah!” Brother exclaimed excitedly, “I know 1 I was 
a little boy. It was dark and I saw her coming back alone, 
carrying a lantern. But I never understood what it 
meant.” 

Miyo hesitated a moment; then she told us. 

When she was employed in our house, she was very 
young, and because she was the sister of Father’s faithful 
Jiya, she was allowed much freedom. A youthful servant, 
also of our house, fell in love with her. For young people 
to become lovers without the sanction of proper formalities 
was a grave offence in any class, but in a samurai house- 
hold it was a black disgrace to the house. The penalty was 
exile through the water gate — a gate of brush built over a 
stream and never used except by one of the eta, or outcast, 
class. The departure was public, and the culprits were 



ii6:: of' the samurai 


ever after shun by everyone,' The penalty^:w^ 
speakably cruelj but in the old days severe measures were 
used as' a preventive of law-breaking. 

. Mother always rigidly obeyed every law of the house- 
hoidj but she saved Miyo from public disgrace by taking' 
the lovers quietly, at midnight, and herself opening' ■the 
big swinging gate for them to pass. No one ever knew the 
truth. ^ 

^Tt is said/^ concluded Miyo sadly, "^^that the hearts of 
those who pass the water gate are purified by the gods; but 
even so, the penalty of a law-breaker can never be evaded. 
In secret I have paid the penalty, and my children were 
saved from disgrace by the heavenly kindness of the 
Honourable Mistress of the Inagaki.” 

We all sat quiet for a moment. Then Brother said 
bitterly : 

‘^The Honourable Mistress of the Inagaki was many 
times more merciful to the servants of her household than 
to her one and only son,’^ 

Impatiently he pushed his cushion aside and abruptly 
said good-night. 

The next morning our road wound along the side of a 
mountain stream awkwardly threading its way through 
a series of angular gullies, finally ending abruptly in a 
swift, sloping leap into a wide, shallow river, which we 
crossed on a boat poled by coolies. This river was the 
scene of one of Jiya’s most exciting stories. Father, on 
one of his hurried trips to Tokyo, had found it flooded and 
had ordered his coolies to place his palanquin on a plat- 
form and carry it on their heads through the whirling 
waves to the opposite shore. One man was drowned. 

As our jinrikishas rolled along I thought of how often 
Father had gone over that road amidst the state and 
pomp of old Japan; and now his two dear ones- — his eldest 
and his youngest — were following the same path in rented 


TRAVEL EDUCATION. 


X17,; 

jiiirikishas, simply garbed, and with no attendants except ^ 
a wheezy old coolie with a baggage horse, /.How 'strange, 
it seemed. , 

At last we reached Takasaki— the. place from which the 
celebrated '^^land stea.mer’^ started on its puffing way to. 
Tokyo. That was the first time that I ever saw a railway: 
train. , It looked to me like a long row of little rooms, 
each with a narrow door opening on to the platform. . ■ 

It was late in the afternoon, and I was so weary that I 
have little recollection of anything except a scolding from 
Brother, because I, feeling that I w^as entering some kind 
of a house, stepped out of my wooden shoes, leaving them 
on the platform. Just before the train started, they were 
handed in at the window by an official whose special duty 
it was to gather all the shoes from the platform before the 
starting of every train. I went to sleep at once, and the 
next thing I knew we were in Tokyo. 


CHAPTER XIII 


FOREIGNERS 

T\yfY TOKYO relatives had arranged,. for me to live 
Ifl them and attend a celebrated school for girls, 
where English was taught by a man who had studied in 
England. This I did for several months, but my brother 
was not satisfied. The girls were required to give much 
attention to etiquette and womanly accomplishments; and 
since my uncle lived in a stately mansion, a great part of 
my time at home was occupied with trifling formalities. 
Brother said that I was receiving the same useless training 
that had been given him, and, since I was to live in 
America, I must have a more practical education. 

Once more my poor brother was totally misunderstood 
by our kindred on account of his stubborn opposition to all 
advice; but finally Father’s old friend, Major Sato, sug- 
gested a mission school that his wife had attended and 
which bore the reputation of being the best girls’ school for 
English in Japan. This pleased Brother and, since it was 
a rule of the school that each pupil should have a resident 
guardian, Major Sato accepted the responsibility and it 
was arranged that, until the beginning of the next term, 
some weeks away, I should be a member of the Sato house- 
hold. Major Sato’s wife was a quiet, gentle lady, un- 
assuming in manner, but with a hidden strength of 
character most unusual. Having no daughter, she ac- 
cepted me as her own and in numberless kind wzjs 
taught me things of lasting value. 

It was a five-mile walk to school from the Sato house. 

Ii8 


FOREIGNERS 119 

In very bad v-eather I was sent in Mrs. Sato’s jinrikisha, 
but, true to my dear priest-teacher’s training, I felt that 
it was almost a disgrace to consider bodily comfort when 
on the road to learning, so I usually walked. 

Starting immediately after an early breakfast, I went 
down the hill and along an old temple road until I reached 
the broad street passing the palace of His Imperial 
Majesty. I always walked slowly there. The clear water 
of the moat, reflecting every stone of the sloping wall and 
the crooked pine trees above, formed a picture of calm, 
unhurried peace. It was the only place I had seen in 
Tokyo that gave me the familiar feeling of ceremonious 
dignity. I loved it. From there I came out upon the 
wide, sunshiny parade ground. There was a solitary tree 
standing just in the centre, where I alwaj^s rested a few 
minutes; for beyond was a long climb through a series of 
narrow, crooked, up-hill streets crowded with children, 
almost every one having a baby on its back. These city 
children did not have the care-free manner of the street 
children of Nagaoka. They were older and graver, and 
although all were bus}'’, some playing games, some chatter- 
ing in groups, and some jogging along on errands, there 
was little noise except the “gata-gata” of their wooden 
clogs. 

At the top of the hill was my school. It stood behind a 
long mound-wall topped •with a thorn hedge. A big gate- 
way opened into spacious grounds, where, in the midst of 
several trees, stood a long, two-storied wooden house with 
a tiled roof and glass windows divided into large squares 
by strips of wood. In that building I spent four happy 
years, and learned some of the most useful lessons of my 

life. 

I liked my school from the first, but some of my experi- 
ences were very puzzling. Had it not been for the 
constant sympathy and wise advice of kind Mrs. Sato, my 


120 A DAUGHTER OF THE SAMURAI 

life might have been difficult; for I was only a simple 
country girl alone in a new world, looking about me with 
very eager, but very ignorant, eyes, and stubbornly judg- 
ing ever3n:hing by my own unreasonably high standards of 
conservative opinion. 

All our studies, except English and Bible, were taught 
by Japanese men — not priests, but professors. Since they 
came only for their classes, we saw little of them. The 
foreign teachers were all women. I had seen one foreign 
man in Nagaoka, but, until I came to this school, I had 
never seen a foreign woman. These teachers were all 
young, lively, most interesting and beautiful. Their 
strange dress, the tight black shoes, the fair skin untouched 
by the cosmetics which we considered a necessary part 
oE dressing, and the various colours of hair arranged in 
loose coils and rolls, were suggestive of dim visions I had 
had about fairyland. I admired them greatly, but their 
lack of ceremony surprised me. The girls, most of whom 
were from Tokyo, where living was less formal than in my 
old-fashioned home, made very short bows and had most 
astonishing manners in talking with one another; never- 
theless, I had a certain interest in watching them. But 
the free actions of the teachers with the pupils and the 
careless conduct of the girls in the presence of the teachers 
shocked me. I had been taught such precepts as “Step 
not on even the shadow of thy teacher, but walk reverently 
three steps behind,” and every day I saw familiar greetings 
and heard informal conversations that seemed to me most 
undignified on the part of the teacher and lacking in re- 
spect on the part of the pupil. 

And there was another thing which troubled me greatly. 
Friendly smiles and small attentions from teachers seemed 
to be liked by these city girls, but I shrank indescribably 
from personal advances made to myself. My rigid train- 
ing held me back from being even mildly responsive to 


FOREIGNERS 


■tm 


either teachers or schoolmates, and it was a long time be- 
fore the strangeness wore away and I found' myself joining 
with ' the girls in their games, and beginning to feehac-' 
'quaiiited ■ with my teachers." This was helped along 
■'greatly by certain: democratic, rules in the school, wvh,ich, 
though not enforced, were encouraged, and became the 
fashion., . One of these was giving up ■ the use of the 
honorific TSamat” and substituting the less formal prefix, 
‘^O’t thus placing the girls on a plane of social equality. 
Another, which greatly interested me, was the universal 
agreement to give up arranging the hair in Japanese style. 
All wore it alike, pulled back from the face and hanging in 
a long braid behind. This change was a mixed pleasure. 
I was no longer a martyr to the gluing-up process of 
scented oil and hot tea, but as I was the only curly- 
haired girl in the school I could not escape a certain 
amount of good-natured ridicule. 

These things I accepted with ease, but my shoes were 
a real annoyance. All my life I had been accustomed to 
leave my shoes at the door whenever I stepped inside a 
house, but here, in the school, we wore our sandals all the 
time, except in the straw-matted dormitory. I was slow 
to adapt myself to this, and it was months before I con- 
quered the impulse to slip back my toes from the cord 
when I reached the door of the class room. The girls 
used to wait outside, just to laugh at my moment^s hesi- 
tation. 

These changes in my life-long habits, combined with the 
merry ridicule of the girls, made me feel that I was one of 
them, and that Etsu-bo had slipped entirely out of the old 
life and was now fitted happily into the new. Neverthe- 
less, there were times when, aroused from deep study by 
someone suddenly calling, '^0. Etsu. San F’ and, after,' a; 
dazed moment of adjusting ' myself to the new name, : I; 
would hurry down the hall, my sandals sounding a noisy 


124 A DAUGHTER OF THE SAMURAI 

teacher — but always a favourite— and pleasantly cari- 
cature her. Occasionally we gave a pantomime of an old 
historic drama, but we never acted with words. That 
would have been too bold and unladylike. Even in 
theatres, women^s parts were taken by men, for our stage 
was not yet far removed from the time when actors were 
called ^'beggars on the shore.^^ 

The teachers were always present on" these occasions, 
laughing, applauding, and praising our efforts as freely 
and happily as if they were girls of our own age. And at 
the same time, they were all busy knitting and sewing, or — 
most interesting of all the things in that wonderful school 
— darning stockings. 

But in spite of my steadily increasing contentment there 
was one thing that was a constant ache to me. Neither 
at school nor near the Sato home was there a shrine. Of 
course, there were prayers at morning service in the school 
chapel, and they were very beautiful and solemn. I 
always felt as if I were in a temple. But they lacked the 
warm homeliness of our family gathering in Honourable 
Grandmother^'s quiet room with the lighted candles and 
curling incense of the open shrine; and the consciousness 
of the near-by protecting presence of the ancestors. This 
I missed more than anything else. And an added grief 
was that I could have no part in the service held on the 
twenty-ninth of each month in memory of my father^s 
death-day. 

Before I left home Mother had given me a very sacred 
thing. It was my father’s death-name written on a certain 
kind of paper by my revered priest-teacher. Preciously I 
had carried this with me wherever I went, but after I 
became a boarder in the school I had a vague feeling 
that for me to keep it there permanently would be disloyal 
to the sacred name and also discourteous to the school; 
for it would be intruding something of the old into an 


FOREIGNERS 


I2S'" 

atmosphere:^which ' only to the new. , 
.could.not'keepit, and yeti could not part with it. , I was 
sorely puzzled. ' 

One week-end I went to visit Mrs. Sato. It was the 
twenty-ninth, day of the month. We were sewings and 
our cushions w^ere drawn close to the open doors over- 
looking the garden. I had dropped' my work^ and was 
thinking, my uriseeing eyes gazing out at ■ a^ path ■ of 
stepping-stones' that ran between tw-o , little hills and 
around a big stone lantern before disappearing in a group 
of small trees., 

^*What are you thinking, O Etsu San?^^ asked Mrs. 
Sato. ‘^You look w^orried."' 

Turning, I saw real concern in her face. Perhaps under 
the influence of the school my reserve was beginning to 
melt. At any rate, I told her of my trouble. 

At once she was all sympathy. 

am ashamed that we have no shrine,’’ she said; 
^Tor we have not even the excuse of being Christians. 
We are nothing. It is the fashion lately to adopt the 
Western way, and we have no house shrine. But there 
is one in the nun’s house at the end of the garden.” 

^^The nun’s house at the end of the garden!” I repeated 
in great astonishment. 

She explained that the land on which they lived had 
once belonged to an old temple where priestesses were in 
charge, which, on account of the changing times, had 
grown very poor. The property had been sold to Major 
Sato on condition that a little thatched hut, once belonging 
to a temple servitor, should be allowed. to.„, remain :as' the.' 
home of a very old and very holy nun,, ,who wished ' to ; 
spend her life in this much-loved: spot. 

That evening we went to.' see her, walking over;' the'' 
stepping-stones between the Iktle hillS ' and ';aro:und: the':' 
stone ianterii to where^. through;, the foliage,; ! could , see ^''a 


126 A DAUGHTER OF THE SAMURAI 

small house surrounded by a low brush fence. Faint 
candlelight twinkled through the paper doors, and I heard 
the gentle, familiar “ton-ton, ton-ton” of the soft wooden 
drum and the low chanting of Buddhist words. I bowed 
my head, and in the darkness homesick tears came to my 
eyes. 

Mrs. Sato opened the humble bamboo gate. 

“ Pardon. May we enter ? ” she called 'gently. 

The chanting ceased. The door slid back, and a kindly 
looking, very aged nun in a gray cotton robe welcomed us 
most cordially. 

The room was simply furnished except that on one side 
stood a very beautiful temple shrine of gilded lacquer. It 
was darkened by age and constant incense smoke. Before 
the gilded Buddha lay a pile of worn chanting-books and 
the small wooden drum we had heard. 

The nun was gentle and sweet like my grandmother, and 
it was easy for me to explain my trouble and show her 
the paper holding the sacred name. Lifting it to her 
forehead, she took it to the shrine and reverently placed 
it before the Buddha. Then we had a simple service, such 
as we used to have in Honourable Grandmother’s room at 
home, and when I came away I left the precious paper in 
the safe keeping of her shrine. After that, on the last 
Friday of every month, I used to visit the holy nun and 
listen to her soft voice chant the service in memory of 
Father’s death-day. 



CHAPTER XIV 


LESSONS 

O UR time in school was supposed to be equally divided 
between Japanese and English^ but since I had been 
already carefully drilled in Japanese studies, I was able 
to put my best efforts on English. My knowledge of that 
language was very limited. I could read and write a little, 
but my spoken English was scarcely understandable. I 
had, however, read a number of translations of English 
books and — more valuable than all else — I possessed a 
supply of scattered knowledge obtained from a little set 
of books that my father had brought me from the capital 
when I was only a child. They were translations, com- 
piled from various sources and published by one of the 
progressive book houses of Tokyo. 

I do not know whose idea it was to translate and publish 
those ten little paper volumes, but whoever it was holds 
my lasting gratitude. They brought the first shafts of 
light that opened to my eager mind the wonders of the 
Western world, and from them I was led to countless other 
friends and companions who, in the years since, have 
brought to me such a wealth of knowledge and happiness 
that I cannot think what life would have been without 
them. How well I remember the day they came ! Father 
had gone to Tokyo on one of his ^Svindow toward growing 
days'^ trips. 

That was always an important event in our lives, for he 
brought back with him, not only wonderful stories of his 


128 A DAUGHTER OF THE SAMURAI 

journey, but also gifts of strange and beautiful things. 
Mother had said that he would be home at the close of the 
day, and I spent the afternoon sitting on the porch step 
watching the slow-lengthening shadows of the garden trees. 
I had placed my high wooden clogs on a stepping-stone 
just at the edge of the longest shadow, and as the sun crept 
farther I moved them from stone to stone, following the 
sunshine. I think I must have had a vague feeling that 
I could thus hasten the slanting shadow into the long 
straight line which would mean sunset. 

At last— at last — and before the shadow had quite 
straightened, I hurriedly snatched up the clogs and 
clattered across the stones, for I had heard the jinrikisha 
man’s cry of “Okaeri!” just outside the gate. I could 
, scarcely bear my joy, and I have a bit of guilt in my heart 
yet when I recall how crookedly I pushed those clogs into 
the neat box of shelves in the “shoe-ofF” alcove of the 
vestibule. 

The next moment the men, perspiring and laughing, 
came trotting up to the door where we, servants and all, 
were gathered, our heads bowed to the floor, all in a quiver 
of excitement and delight, but of course everybody gravely 
saying the proper words of greeting. Then, my duty 
done, I was caught up in my father’s arms and we went to 
Honourable Grandmother, who was the only one of the 
household who might wait in her room for the coming of 
the master of the house. 

That day was one of the “memory stones” of my life, 
for among all the wonderful and beautiful things which 
were taken from the willow-wood boxes straddled over the 
shoulders of the servants was the set of books for me. 
I can see them now. Ten small volumes of tough Japanese 
paper, tied together with silk cord and marked, “Tales of 
the Western Seas.” They held extracts from “Peter 
Parley’s World History,” “National Reader,” “Wilson’s 


LESSONS 


129 

Readers,” and many short poems and tales from classic 
authors in English literature. 

The charm of delight that rare things give came to me 
during days and weeks — even months and years — -from 
those books. I can recite whole pages of them now. 
There was a most interesting story of Christopher Colum- 
bus. It was not translated literally, but adapted so that 
the Japanese mind would readily grasp the thought with- 
out being buried in a puzzling mass of strange customs. 
All facts of the wonderful discovery were stated truthfully, 
but Columbus was pictured as a fisher lad, and somewhere 
in the story there figured a lacquer bowl and a pair of 
chopsticks. 

These books had been my inspiration during all my 
years of childhood, and when, in my study of English at 
school, my clumsy mind began to grasp the fact that, 
hidden beneath the puzzling words were continuations of 
stories I knew, and of ideas similar to those I had found in 
the old familiar books that I had loved so well, my delight 
was unbounded. Then I began to read eagerly. I would 
bend over my desk, hurrying, guessing, skipping whole 
lines, stumbling along — my dictionary wide open beside 
me, but I not having time to look — and yet, in some 
marvellous way, catching ideas. And I never wearied. 
The fascination was like that of a moon-gazing party, 
where, while we watched from the hillside platform, a 
floating cloud would sail across the glorious disk, and we — 
silent, trembling with excitement — ^would wait for the 
glory of the coming moment. In the same way, a half- 
hidden thought — elusive, tantalizing^ — ^would fill me with a 
breathless hope that the next moment light would come. 
Another thing about English books was that, as I read, I 
was constantly discovering shadowy replies to the un- 
answered questions of my childhood. Oh, English books 
were a source of deepest joy! 


; 130: THE SAMURAI 

I am afraid that I should not have been so persistent, 
or so successful in my English studies, could I have readily 
obtained translations of the books I was so eager to read. 
Tokyo bookshops, at that time, were beginning to be 
flooded with translations of English, French, German, 
and Russian books; and these generally, if not scientific 
treatises, were classics translated, as a rule, by our best 
scholars; but they were expensive to purchase and difficult 
for me to obtain in any other way. To read, even 
stumblingiy, in the original, the books in the school library 
was my only resource, and it became one of my greatest 
pleasures. 

Excepting English, of all my studies history was the 
favourite; and I liked and understood best the historical 
books of the Old Testament. The figurative language 
was something like Japanese; the old heroes had the same 
virtues and the same weaknesses of our ancient samurai; 
the patriarchal form of government was like ours, and the 
family system based upon it pictured so plainly our own 
homes that the meaning of many questioned passages was 
far less puzzling to me than were the explanations of the 
foreign teachers. 

In my study of English literature, it seems odd that, of 
all the treasures that I gathered, the one which has been 
most lasting as a vivid picture, is that of Tennyson^s 
^^Dora/^ Probably this was because of its having been 
used by a famous Japanese writer as the foundation of a 
novel called ^^Tanima no Himeyuri^' — Lily of the Valley. 
The story of Dora, being a tale of the first-born of an 
aristocratic family disinherited because he loved a rustic 
lass of humble class; and the subsequent tragedy resulting 
from the difference in training of different social circles, 
was a tale familiar and understandable to us. It was skil- 
fully handled, the author, with wonderful word pictures, 
adapting Western life and thought to Japanese conditions. 



LESSONS ■■■', 

^^'The Lily of the Valley appeared at just the time when 
the young mind of Japan, both high and ^humble, was 
beginning to seek, emancipation from the stoic philosophy, 
which for centuries had been. the core of our well-bred 
training, and it touched the heart of the public. The book 
rushed with a stoim of popularity all through the land and 
was read by all classes; and— which was unusual — by both 
men and women. It is said that Her Imperial Majesty 
became so interested in reading it that she sat up all one 
night while her court ladies, sitting silent in the next room, 
wearily waited. 

I think it was my third year in school that a wave of 
excitement over love stories struck Tokyo. All the school- 
girls were wildly interested. When translations were to be 
had we passed them from hand to hand through the school; 
but mostly we had to struggle along in English, picking out 
love scenes from the novels and poems in our school 
library. Enoch Arden was our hero. We were familiar 
with loyalty and sacrifice on the part of a wife, and under- 
stood perfectly why Annie should have so long withstood 
the advances of Philip, but the unselfishness of the faithful 
Enoch was so rare as to be much appreciated. 

The hearts of Japanese girls are no different from those 
of girls of other countries, but for centuries, especially in 
samurai homes, we had been strictly trained to regard 
duty, not feeling, as the standard of relations between 
man and woman. Thus our unguided reading sometimes 
gave us warped ideas on this unknown subject. The im- 
pression I received was that love as pictured in Western 
books was interesting and pleasant, sometimes beautiful 
in sacrifice like that of Enoch Arden; but not to be com- 
pared in strength, nobility, or loftiness of spirit to the 
affection of parent for child, or the loyalty between lord 
and vassal. 

Had my opinion been allowed to remain wordless, k 


Ijo A DAUGHTER OF THE SAMURAI 

I am afraid that I should hot have been so persistent, 
or so successful in my English studies, could I have readily 
obtained translations of the books I was so eager to read. 
Tokyo bookshops, at that time, were beginning to be 
flooded with translations of English, French, German, 
and Russian books; and these generally, if not scientific 
treatises, were classics translated, as a rule, by our best 
scholars; but they were expensive to purchase and diflScult 
for me to obtain in any other way. To read, even 
stumblingly, in the original, the books in the school library 
was my only resource, and it became one of my greatest 
pleasures. 

Excepting English, of all my studies history was the 
favourite; and I liked and understood best the historical 
books of the Old Testament. The figurative language 
was something like Japanese; the old heroes had the same 
virtues and the same weaknesses of our ancient samurai; 
the patriarchal form of government was like ours, and the 
family system based upon it pictured so plainly our own 
homes that the meaning of many questioned passages was 
far less puzzling to me than were the explanations of the 
foreign teachers. 

In my study of English literature, it seems odd that, of 
alTthe treasures that I gathered, the one which has been 
most lasting as a vivid picture, is that of Tennyson’s 
“Dora.” Probably this was because of its having been 
used by a famous Japanese writer as the foundation of a 
novel called “Tanima no Himeyuri” — Lily of the Valley. 
1 he story of Dora, being a tale of the first-born of an 
aristocratic family disinherited because he loved a rustic 
lass of humble class; and the subsequent tragedy resulting 
from the difference in training of different social circles, 
was a tale familiar and understandable to us. It was skil- 
fully handled, the author, with wonderful word pictures, 
adapting Western life and thought to Japanese conditions. 


LESSONS 


;i3i, 

: The Lily ' of the Valley appeared at just the time when 
' the young mind of Japan, both highl and humble, was 

■ beginning to' seek emancipation from the stoic philosophy, 
which for centuries had been the core of our well-bred 
training,, and it touched the heart of the public. The book 
rushed with a stoim of popularity all through the iand- and 
was read by all classes; and — ^which waS' unusual — -by both 
men and women. It is. said that Her Imperial Majesty 
became so interested in reading it that she sat up all one 
night while her court ladies, sitting silent in the next roomj 
wearily waited. 

I think it was my third year in school that a wave of 
excitement over love stories, struck Tokyo. All the school- 
girls were wildly interested. When translations were to be 
■had we passed them from, hand to hand through the school ; 

■' but mostly we had to struggle along in English, picking out 

■ love scenes from the novels'" and poems^ in our school 

■ library. Enoch Arden was our hero. We were familiar 
■■ with 'loyalty and sacrifice on the part of a wife, and under-. 
/stPod perfectly why Annie should have so long withstood: 
'.the advances of Philip,’ but the unselfishness of the faithful: 
'Enoch: was so' rare as to be much appreciated. 

' hearts^ of Japanese': girls are , no dffereiit from those: 

'of girls of 'other countries, but for centuries, .' especially :m 
::samurai:: homes,, we had been ^strictIy trained to regard 
duty, not feeling, as the standard of relations between 
man and woman. Thus, our "unguided reading sometimes 
gave us warped ideas on^ this' unknown subject. The im- 
pression I received was that love as pictured in Western 
books was interesting and- pleasant,: sometimes: b 
in sacrifice like that of Eno.ch ' Arden; 'but 'no^ 
pared in strength, nobility, or loftiness of spirit to the 
affection of parent for child, or the loyalty between lord 
and vassal. 

Had my opinion been allowed to remain wordless, it 


132 A DAUGHTER OF THE SAMURAI 

probably would never have caused me annoyance, but 
it was destined to see the light. We had a very interesting 
literature society which held an occasional special meeting, 
to which we invited the teachers as guests. With an 
anxious pride to have a fine entertainment, we frequently 
planned our programme first and afterward selected the 
girls for the various tasks. The result was that some- 
times the subject chosen was beyond the capacity of the 
girl to handle. At one time this rule brought disaster to 
me, for we never shirked any duty to which we were 
assigned. 

On this occasion I was asked to prepare a three-page 
essay in English, having one of the cardinal virtues for a 
subject. I puzzled over which to select of Faith, Hope, 
Charity, Love, Prudence, and Patience; but recalling that 
our Bible teacher frequently quoted “God is Love,” I 
felt that there I had a foundation, and so chose as my 
topic, “Love.” I began with the love of the Divine 
Father, then, under the influence of my late reading, I 
drifted along, rather vaguely, I fear, on the effect of love 
on the lives of celebrated characters in history and poetry. 
But I did not know how to handle so awkward a subject, 
and reached my limit in both knowledge and vocabulary 
before the three pages were filled. Faithfulness to duty, 
however, still held firm, and I wrote on, finally concluding 
with these words : “ Love is like a powerful medicine. When 
properly used it will prove a pleasant tonic, and some- 
times may even preserve life; but when misused, it can 
ruin nations, as seen in the lives of Cleopatra and the be- 
loved Empress of the Emperor Genso of Great China.” 

At the close of my reading one teacher remarked, “This 
is almost desecration.” 

It was years before I understood what the criticism 
meant. 

For a while my great interest in English reading filled 


LESSONS 


133^ 

all my hours of leisure, but there came a time when my 
heart longed for the dear old stories of Japan, and I wrote 
to my mother asking her to send me some books from 
home. Among others she selected a popular classic called 
“Hakkenden,” which I especially loved. It is the longest 
novel ever written in the Japanese language, and our 
copy, Japanese-bound and elaborately illustrated, con- 
sisted of 180 volumes. With great effort Mother suc- 
ceeded in obtaining a foreign-bound copy in two thick 
volumes. I welcomed these books with joy, and was 
amazed when one of the teachers, seeing them in my book- 
case, took them away, saying they were not proper books 
for me to read. 

To me, “Hakkenden,” with its wonderful symbolism, 
was one of the most inspiring books I had ever read. It 
was written in the i8th Century by Bakin, our great 
philosopher-novelist, and so musical is the literature, and 
so lofty the ideals, that frequently it has been compared, 
by Japanese of learning, to Milton’s “Paradise Lost” and 
the “ Divine Comedy” of Dante. The author was a strong 
believer in the unusual theory of spiritual transmigration, 
and his story is based on that belief. 

The tale is of the daimio Satomi, who, with his almost 
starving retainers, was holding his castle against a be- 
sieging army. Knowing that the strength of the enemy 
lay alone in their able general, he desperately offered 
everything he possessed, even to his precious daughter, 
to any one brave enough to destroy his enemy. Satomi’s 
faithful dog, a handsome wolf-hound named Yatsubusa, 
bounded away, and the next morning appeared before his 
master, carrying by its long hair the head of Satomi’s foe. 
With their leader gone the enemy was thrown into con- 
fusion, and Satomi’s warriors, with a mighty rush, put 
them to flight. Thus was the province restored to peace 
and prosperity. Then, so bitterly did Satomi regret 


134 A DAUGHTER OF THE SAMURAI 

his promise that he was enraged at the very sight of the 
faithful animal to whom he owed his good fortune. But 
his beautiful daughter, the Princess Fuse, pitied the 
wronged animal. 

“The word of a samurai, once uttered, cannot be re- 
called,” she said. “It is my duty to uphold the honour 
of my father’s word.” 

So the filial daughter went with Yatsubusa to a moun- 
tain cave where she spent her time in praying to the gods 
that a soul might be given to the brave animal; and with 
every murmured prayer the noble nature of the dumb 
Yatsubusa drew nearer to the border line of human 
intelligence. 

One day there came to the mountain a loyal retainer of 
Satomi. He saw, just within the cave, the Princess Fuse 
sitting before the shrine holding an open book. Before 
her, like a faithful vassal, Yatsubusa listened with bowed 
head to the holy reading. Believing he was doing a noble 
deed, the retainer lifted his gun and fired. The bullet, 
swift and strong, was guided by fate. It passed directly 
through the body of Yatsubusa and on, piercing the heart 
of the Princess Fuse. 

At that instant the freed spirit of the Princess, as eight 
shining stars in a floating mist, rose from her body and 
floated softly through the sky to the eight corners of the 
world. Each star was a virtue: Loyalty, Sincerity, 
Filial Piety, Friendship, Charity, Righteousness, Courtesy, 
and Wisdom. • ^ 

Fate guided each star to a human home, and in course 
of time, into each of these homes a son was born. As they 
blossomed into manhood. Fate brought the youths to- 
gether, and the reunited eight virtues become heroic 
vassals, through whom came glory to the name of Satomi. 
So the spirit of the filial daughter brought honour to her 
father’s name. 


LESSONS 


m 

I could not understand why this miracle-story, filled 
with lofty symbolism, could be more objectionable than 
the many fables and fairy tales of personified animals that 
I had read in English literature. But, after much ponder- 
ing, I concluded that thoughts, like the language, on one 
side of the world are straightforward and literal; and on 
the other, vague, mystical, and visionary. 

At the end of my school life my beloved books were 
returned to me. I have them now — battered, loose- 
leafed, and worn — and I still love them. 

As time passed on, I learned to like almost everytning 
about my school — even many of the things which at first 
I had found most trying; but there was one thing which 
from the very first I had enjoyed with my whole heart. 
The school building was surrounded by large grounds with 
tall trees. A small lawn near the principal doorway was 
well cared for, but beyond was an extensive stretch of 
weedy grass and untrained shrubbery. There were no 
stone lanterns, no pond with darting gold-fish, and no 
curving bridge; just big trees with unbound branches, 
uncut grass, and — freedom to grow. 

At my home there was one part of the garden that was 
supposed to be wild. The trees were twisted like wind- 
blown mountain pines; the stepping-stones marked an 
irregular path across ground covered with pine needles; 
the fence was of growing cedar peeping between uneven 
rods of split bamboo, and the gate was of brushwood tied 
with rough twine. But someone was always busy trim- 
ming the pines or cutting the hedge, and every morning 
Jiya wiped off the stepping-stones and, after sweeping 
beneath the pine trees, carefully scattered fresh pine 
needles gathered from the forest. There the wildness 
was only constant repression, but here at the school every- 
thing was filled with the uplifting freshness of unre- 
strained freedom. This I enjoyed with a happiness so 


136 A DAUGHTER OF THE SAMURAI 

great that the very fact that such happiness could exist 
in the human heart was a surprise to me. 

One section of this wild ground the teachers divided 
into small gardens, giving one to each of the girls and pro- 
viding any kind of flower seeds we wanted. This was a 
new delight. I already loved the free growth of the trees, 
and the grass on which I could walk even in my shoes; but 
this “plant-what-you-please” garden gave me a wholly 
new feeling of personal right. I, with no violation of 
tradition, no stain on the family name, no shock to parent, 
teacher, or townspeople, no harm to anything in the world, 
was free to act. So instead of having a low bamboo fence 
around my garden, as most of the girls had, I went to the 
kitchen and coaxed the cook to give me some dried 
branches used for kindling. Then I made a rustic hedge, 
and, in my garden, instead of flowers, I planted — potatoes. 

No one knows the sense of reckless freedom which this 
absurd act gave me — nor the consequences to which it led. 
It had unloosed my soul, and 1 stood listening, while from 
a strange tangle of unconventional smiles and informal 
acts, of outspoken words and unhidden thoughts, of 
growing trees and untouched grass, the spirit of freedom 
came knocking at my door. 



CHAPTER XV 

HOW I BECAME A CHRISTIAN 


I 


N MY Nagaoka home, notwithstanding 
care that surrounded me, my mind was always ^ 
with unanswered questions. My education as a p , 

had developed my mind, but it had grown ^^^ding 
silence; for, liberal as was my father in his views reg „ 
my training, I was influenced by the home inmost 

conservatism, and rarely spoke, even to him> or my 

thoughts. 0 just 

But occasionally this reserve was broken. ^ 
after I had made many bows of farewell to the depar 
guests of the three-hundredth death celebration o 
ancestor, I asked: K rk 

“Honourable Father, who is the first, the away-oatit, 

the very beginning of our ancestors ?” ^ 

“Little daughter,” Father gravely answered, ^ j 
presumptuous question for a well-bred girl to ns > 
will be honest and tell you that I do not know- ^ 
Confucius replied to his disciple concerning tn* 
question, ‘We know not life.’” j must in 

I was very young, but I well understood that 1 
the future be more de^mure and womanly in my mq ’ 
and not ask questions with the freedom of a boy- 
The influence of my school life in Tokyo had ^^rne 

Unconsciously I had expanded, until gradually t 
convinced that asking questions was only a p^tt o n ^ 
development. Then, for the first time in my o ^ 


tempted to put into words some of the secret 


thoughts of 


138 A DAUGHTER OF THE SAMURAI 

my heart. This was gently encouraged by my tactful 
teachers; and, as time passed on, I realized more and more 
that they were wonderfully wise for women, and my 
confidence in them grew. Not only this, but their effort- 
less influence to inspire happiness changed my entire 
outlook on life. My childhood had been happy, but it had 
never known one throb of what may be called joyousness. 
I used to gaze at the full moon sailing in the deep sky, with 
all the poetic ecstasy of the Japanese heart, but always, 
like a shadow, came the thought, “It will grow less from 
to-night.” Our flower viewings were a delight to me, but 
invariably, as I travelled homeward, I sighed to myself: 
“The lovely blossoms will fall before the winds of to- 
morrow.” So it was with everything. In the midst of 
gladness I unconsciously sent out a heart search for a 
thread of sadness. I ascribe this morbid tendency to the 
Buddhist teaching of my childhood; for there is a strain 
of hopeless sadness in all Buddhist thought. 

But my life at school blew into my heart a breath of 
healthful cheerfulness. As the restraint which had held 
me like a vise began to relax, so also there melted within 
me the tendency to melancholy. It could not be other- 
wise; for the teachers, whether working, playing, laughing, 
or even reproving, were a continual surprise. In my 
home, surprises had been infrequent. People bowed, 
walked, talked, and smiled exactly as they had bowed, 
walked, talked, and smiled yesterday, and the day before, 
and in all past time. But these astonishing teachers were 
never the same. They changed so unexpectedly in voice 
and manner with each person to whom they spoke, that 
their very changeableness was a refreshing attraction. 
They reminded me of cherry blossoms. 

Japanese people love flowers for what they rnean. I 
was taught from babyhood that the plum, bravely push- 
ing its blossoms through the snows of early spring, is our 


HOW I BECAME A CHRISTIAN 139 

bridal flower because it is an emblem of duty tbrough 
hardship. The cherry is beautiful and it never fades, 
for the lightest breeze scatters the still fresh and fragrant 
petals into another beauty of tinted, floating clouds; which 
again changes to a carpet of delicate white-and-pink 
shells— like my teachers, always changing and always 
beautiful. 

Although I now know that my first impressions of 
American womanhood were exaggerated, I have never 
regretted this idealization; for through it I came to realize 
the tragic truth that the Japanese woman— like the 
plum blossom, modest, gentle, and bearing unjust hardship 
without complaint — is often little else than a useless sacri- 
fice; while the American woman — self-respecting, untram- 
melled, changing with quick adaptability to new con- 
ditions — carries inspiration to every heart, because her 
life, like the blossom of the cherry, blooms in freedom and 
naturalness. 

This realization was of slow growth, and it brought with 
it much silent questioning. 

From childhood I had known, as did all Japanese people, 
that woman is greatly inferior to man. This I never 
questioned. It was fate. But as I grew older I so 
constantly saw that fate brings inconvenience and hu- 
miliation to blameless people that I fell into a habit of 
puzzling, in a crude, childish way, over this great unkind 
Power. At last a day came when my heart broke into 
open rebellion. 

Ever since the hard days before the Restoration, my 
mother had been subject to occasional attacks of asthma, 
which we all were sincere in believing was due to some 
unknown wrong committed by her in a previous existence. 
Once when, after a breathless struggle, I heard her gasp, 
“It is fate and must be borne,” I ran to Ishi and asked 
indignantly why fate made my mother suflFer. 


140 A DAUGHTER OF THE SAMURAI 

“It cannot be helped,” she replied, with pitying tears 
in her eyes. “It is because of the unworthiness of woman. 
But you must be calm, Etsu-bo Sama. The Honourable 
Mistress does not complain. She is proud to bear 
silently.” 

I was too young to understand, but, with my heart 
pounding in hot rebellion against the powerful, mysterious 
injustice, I pulled myself into Ishi’s lap and, convulsively 
clinging to her, begged her to tell me a story — quick— of 
clashing swords, and flying arrows, and heroes who 
fought and won. 

Japanese children were not taught that rebellious 
thoughts, if unexpressed, are a wrong to the gods, so the 
resentment in my heart grew. But as it grew there 
slowly drifted into, and curiously blended with it, a blind 
wonder why my mother and Ishi, when hardship came 
for which they were not to blame, should submit to it, 
not only dutifully and patiently — that, of course, it was 
their place, as women, to do — but with pride. Something 
within me cried out that, however dutiful they might be 
in act, their hearts ought to rebel; yet I had known both 
unnecessarily to accept a humiliating blame that they 
knew was not theirs ! That those two noble women should 
encourage self-humiliation I resented more bitterly than I 
did the hard decrees of fate. 

Of course, this thought was not clear in my mind at 
that time. Then and for years after, my idea of fate — 
for in fate I firmly believed— was of a vague, floating, 
stupendous power, for which I felt only resentful wonder. 

Another puzzle came one midsummer airing day. It 
seems odd that it should have happened then, for airing 
days were the most care-free, happy time of the year for 
me. Then the godowns were emptied and long ropes 
stretched in the sunshine, on which were hung torn banners 
bearing our crest, old field-curtains used in the camps of 


HOW I BECAME A CHRISTIAN 141 

our ancestors, ancient regalia of house officers, and many 
odd-shaped garments belonging to what Ishi’s fairy tales 
called “the olden, olden time.” Beneath the low eaves 
were piles of clumsy horse armour bound with faded ropes 
of twisted silk; and old war weapons — spears, battle-axes, 
bows, and sheaves of arrows — stood in out-of-the-way 
corners of the garden. All available space was utilized; 
even the bridge-posts and the stone lanterns were deco- 
rated with chain-silk armour and lacquer helmets with 
fearful masks. 

The confusion was delightful. I loved it. And Father 
would walk around with me, showing me things and 
explaining their use, until, all perspiring and with eyes 
dazzled by the sun, we would go indoors and stumble 
through the cluttered-up halls to Honourable Grand- 
mother’s room. That seemed to be the only place in 
the house in order. Everywhere else were busy servants 
brushing, folding, or carrying, and at the same time all 
chattering gayly; for airing days, although bringing hard 
work, were a happy diversion in our rather monotonous 
household and always cordially welcomed by the servants. 

When Father and I reached Honourable Grandmother’s 
room we found ourselves suddenly shut away from all the 
turmoil into a place cool and quiet. I can see Father now, 
as, with a sigh of satisfaction, he closed the door behind 
him and, pushing aside the proffered cushion, bowed his 
thanks to Honourable Grandmother and seated himself 
on the cool straw mat beside the open doors overlooking 
the shady “wild garden.” There he would sit, fanning 
himself and talking with Honourable Grandmother of old 
times. 

Once, just after the noon meal of hot whale soup and 
eggplant, which was always served on airing days. Father 
went directly to his room. I was hurrying after him when 
I saw Jiya and another manservant in their stiff crest- 


142 A DAUGHTER OF THE SAMURAI 

dresses crossing the garden from the godown. They were 
carrying, reverentially, a whitewood chest shaped like a 
temple box for sacred books. On the front, very large, 
was our crest, and around it was tied a straw rope with 
dangling Shinto papers. Many times I had seen that 
chest in the godown, standing alone on a whitewood plat- 
form. It held family heirlooms, some of them centuries 
old. The men were on their way to a certain room which 
Mother had prepared, where the chest would be opened in 
silence, and the sacred articles carefully examined by men 
in ceremonial garments. 

I sat down listlessly on the edge of the porch, for I knew 
that Father, dressed in his stately kamishimo garments, 
would soon go to the room where the heirloom chest had 
been taken, and I should see him no more that afternoon. 
On airing days I generally followed him wherever he 
went, but across the threshold of that room I should not be 
allowed to step. I did not wonder why. It had always 
been so. 

But as I sat alone on the porch I began to think, and 
after a while I hunted up Ishi. 

“ Ishi,” I said, “ I go everywhere else with Father. Why 
cannot I be with him in the room where they are airing 
the sacred things?” 

“Etsu-bo Sama,” she replied in the most matter-of-fact 
tone, as she shook out the long fringe of an old-fashioned 
incense ball, “it is because you were born a daughter to 
your father instead of a son.” 

I felt that her words were a personal reproach, and with 
the age-old, patient submission of the Japanese woman, 

I walked slowly toward Honourable Grandmother’s room. 
It was comforting to turn my mind toward my stately, 
noble grandmother, to whom the entire household, even 
Father, looked up with reverence. Then, suddenly, like 
a breath of cold Avind, came the thought that even my 


HOW I BECAME A CHRISTIAN 


143 

saintly grandmother would not dare touch the sacred 
things that were used to honour the Shinto gods. She 
always attended to the Buddhist shrine, but it was 
Father’s duty to care for the white Shinto shrine. During 
his absence, Jiya or another manservant took his place, 
for no woman was worthy to handle such holy things. 
And yet the great god of Shinto was a woman — the Sun 
. goddess! 

That night X was bold enough to ask my father if his 
honourable mother was an unworthy woman like all 
others. 

“What do you think, little Daughter?” he asked, after 
a moment’s hesitation. 

“It cannot be,” I replied. “You honour her too greatly 
for it to be true.” 

He smiled and tenderly touched my head with his hand. 

“Continue to believe so, little Daughter,” he said 
gently. “And yet do not forget the stern teachings of 
your childhood. They form the current of a crystal 
stream that, as it flows through the ages, keeps Japanese 
women worthy — like your grandmother.” 

It was not until long, long afterward, when the knowl- 
edge of later years had broadened my mind, that I compre- 
hended his hidden meaning that a woman may quietly 
harbour independent thought if she does not allow it to 
destroy her gentle womanhood. The night that this 
thought came to me I wrote in my diary: “Useless 
sacrifice leads to — only a sigh. Self-respect leads to — 
freedom and hope.” 

Beyond the wall on one side of our school was a rough 
path leading past several small villages, with ricefields and 
patches of clover scattered between. One day, when a 
teacher was taking a group of us girls for a walk, we came 
upon a dry ricefield dotted with wild flowers. We were 
gathering them with merry chattering and laughter when 



144 A DAUGHTER OF THE SAMURAI 

two village farmers passed by, walking slowly and watch- 
ing us curiously. 

“What is the world coming to,” said one, “when 
workable-age young misses waste time wandering about 
through bushes and wild grass?” 

“They are grasshoppers trying to climb the mountain,” 
the other replied, “but the sun will scorch them with 
scorn. There can be only pity for the young man who 
takes one of those for his bride.” 

The men were rough and ignorant, but they were men; 
and though we all laughed, not one of the girls was far 
enough from the shackles of her mother’s day not to feel 
a shadow of discomfort as we walked homeward. 

The teacher paused as we came to the moss-covered 
stone wall of an old shrine and pointed to a near-by cherry 
tree, young and thrifty, growing out of the hollow of 
another tree whose fallen trunk was so old and twisted 
that it looked like a rough-scaled dragon. Beside it was 
one of the wooden standards so often seen in an artistic 
or noted spot. On the tablet was inscribed the poem: 

“The blossoms of to-day draw strength from the roots of a thou- 
sand years ago.” 

“This tree is like you girls,” said the teacher, with a 
smile. “Japan’s beautiful old civilization has given its 
strength to you young women of to-day. Now it is your 
duty to grow bravely and give to new Japan, in return, 
a greater strength and beauty than even the old possessed. 
Do not forget!” 

We walked on homeward. Just as we reached our gate 
in the hedge wall one of the girls, who had been rather 
quiet, turned to me. . 

“Nevertheless,” she said, defiantly, “the grasshoppers 
are climbing the mountain into the sunlight.” 


HOW I BECAME A CHRISTIAN 


145 


As I learned to value womanhood, I realized more and 
more that my love of freedom and my belief in my right to 
grow toward it meant more than freedom to act, to talk, 
to think. Freedom also claimed a spiritual right to grow. 

I do not know exactly how I became a Christian. It 
was not a sudden thing. It seems to have been a natural 
spiritual development — so natural that only a few puzzles 
stand out clearly as I look back along the path. As I read, 
and thought, and felt, my soul reached out into the un- 
known; and gradually, easily, almost unconsciously, I 
drifted out of a faith of philosophy, mysticism, and resig- 
nation into one of high ideals, freedom, cheerfulness, and 
hope. ■ 

Gf the wonder and glory of what I consider the greatest 
faith of the world I do not speak. Of that many know. 
And the selfish gain to me is beyond all words of all 
languages. 

When I was sent to the mission school the fact that the 
teachers were of another religion was not considered at all. 
They were thought of only as teachers of the language and 
manners of America; so when I wrote to Mother, asking 
her consent to my becoming a Christian, I know she was 
greatly surprised. But she was a wise woman. She 
replied, “My daughter, this is an important thing. I 
think it will be best for you to wait until vacation. Then 
we will talk of it.” 

So I postponed being baptized, and when vacation came, 
I went to Nagaoka. The people there knew little of 
Christianity. The only impression most of them had was 
that it was a curious belief lacking in ceremony, whose 
converts were required to trample upon sacred things. 
There existed, especially among the old, a strong distaste 
against Jakyo, the evil sect, but it held no vital, forceful 
bitterness. The people of Nagaoka looked upon the 
stories of Japan’s Christian martyrs as a distant and pitiful 



146 A DAUGHTER OF THE SAMURAI 

thing; but they had none of the shuddering horror felt in 
some communities of southern Japan, whose memories of 
the tragedies of four centuries ago had reason to live. 

My mother, who had learned from Father to be tolerant 
of the opinions of others, had no prejudice against the new 
religion; but she believed that the great duty in life for 
sons and daughters consisted in a rigid observance of the 
ritual for ancestor-worship and the ceremonies in memory 
of the dead. When I first reached home her heart was 
heavy with dread, but when she learned that my new 
faith did not require disrespect to ancestors, her relief and 
gratitude were pathetic, and she readily gave her consent. 

But Honourable Grandmother! My proud, loyal grand- 
mother I It was impossible for her to understand, and I 
think my becoming a heretic was to her a lifelong sorrow. 
Her grief was my heaviest cross. 

It was hard, too, to visit my relatives and friends. They 
looked upon me as a curiosity, and my mother was in a 
continual state of explanation and apology. One old aunt 
closed the doors of her shrine and pasted white paper over 
them that the ancestors might be spared the knowledge 
of my “peculiarity.” 

Another aunt, who invited me out to dinner, served no 
fish, feeling that, since I was so puzzlingly removed from 
ordinary life, I could not be feasted in the usual way. 
After discarding one plan after another, she finally con- 
cluded it would be both harmless and respectful for her to 
treat me as a priest. 

All these things among the friends that I had known 
from babyhood hurt me. I could bravely have borne 
persecution, but to be set apart as something strange 
almost broke my heart. How I longed for my father! 
He would have understood, but I was alone in the midst 
of kindly ignorance. Everybody loved me, but they all 
looked at me in helpless pity. 


HOW I BECAME A CHRISTIAN 147 

At first I was unhappy, but my three months at home 
changed everything, both for my friends and for myself. 
When I returned to school I carried with me all the respect 
and love of the home friends that had always been mine, 
and which — thank God — I have kept until now. 

I think I am a true Christian. At least my belief has 
given me untold comfort and a perfect heart-satisfaction, 
but it has never separated me from my Buddhist friends. 
They have respect for this strange belief of mine; for they 
feel that, although I am loyal to the Christian God, I still 
keep the utmost reverence for my fathers and respect for 
the faith that was the highest and holiest thing they knew. 


CHAPTER XVI 


SAILING UNKNOWN SEAS 

ANOTHER happy year I spent in school Then I 
returned to Nagaoka, realizing, myself, how little 
I knew, but in the eyes of my friends, an educated woman. 
This was an unenviable reputation— one which I knew 
I should have to live down if I wanted to stand well in the 
eyes of my old friends during these last months before I 
started for my new home in America. Each vacation 
I had had the same experience; for Nagaoka minds, al- 
though simple, loving, and true, were also stubborn; and 
no year could I begin where I had left off the year previous. 
My friends all loved me and they had become somewhat 
reconciled to my change of faith, but they could not help 
thinking, that, after all, I must be peculiar-minded to 
enjoy being so unlike other women. So again I had to 
accommodate myself to the discomfort of being received 
formally, and again patiently watch the gradual melting 
away of outward reserve until I could once more reach 
the faithful hearts beneath. 

But finally I found myself settled into the old life, only 
now with the added excitement of my preparations for 
going to America. 

As a Japanese marriage is a family matter it is not the 
custom for outsiders to present gifts; but the circum- 
stances connected with mine were so unusual that many 
Nagaoka families sent large worAf cakes of red and white, 
most of them in the shape of storks or twin love-birds — 
emblems of congratulation and happy long life. Distant 

148 



relatives, old 'retainers, and' family ' servants, even those 
married and living at some distance, remembered me 
with weaves of silk and rolls of red and white mawata — the 
light, soft silk floss, so useful in every Japanese family 
as interlining for cloaks and dresses and for various 
delicate household purposes. 

Most of these homely gifts were wholly inappropriate 
for life in America, but they expressed so much personal 
interest in me and loyalty to my father’s family that I was 
deeply touched. And the dinners were many — most of 
them from relatives — ^where I, always seated next to 
Mother, in the place of honour, was served red rice and red 
snapper, head and all, and soup with seven, nine, or 
eleven vegetables. 

All this was exciting in a quiet way; but the real excite- 
ment came when Brother, whose home was now in Tokyo, 
came up to be with us for my last weeks at home. He 
brought a letter from Matsuo, saying that a kind American 
lady, for the sake of a Japanese girl of my school in whom 
she was interested, had asked Matsuo to take me to her 
home when I arrived, and that we were to be married 
there. Mother read the letter with bowed head, and when 
she looked up, I was astonished to see the shadow of tears 
in her eyes. Poor Mother! Almost six years she had 
held, deep hidden in her heart, the shadowy dread that 
had assailed her when we first heard of Matsuo’s decision 
to remain in America; for it was absolutely without pre- 
cedent in Japanese life that a bride should go to a husband 
who had no mother or elder sister to guide and instruct the 
young wife in her new duties. This message was like 
a whisper of welcome from the thoughtful heart of a 
stranger; and that the stranger was a woman brought to 
Mother a feeling of safe, warm comfort. Lifting the 
letter to her forehead, she bowed in the ordinary form of 
expressing thanks, but said nothing, and not one of us 


150 A DAUGHTER OF THE SAMURAI 

realized that beneath her quiet manner a flood of grateful 
relief was sweeping away the anxiety of years. That 
night, as I passed her open door, I caught the fragrance 
of incense. The shrine was open. Matsuo’s letter had 
been placed within, and before it the curling incense was 
carrying upward the deep thanks of a mother’s heart. 

Brother watched some of the preparations for my de- 
parture with evident disapproval. 

“Those things are all right for a bride who is to live in 
Japan,” he said, “but all nonsense for Etsu-bo. What 
will she do with a long crest-curtain and a doll festival set ? 
Matsuo, being a merchant, will have to pay a big duty, 
and they’re useless in America anyway.” 

At first Honourable Grandmother and Mother listened 
in silence, but one day Mother gently but firmly protested. 

“They may be useless,” she said. “Of Etsu-ko’s 
future I know nothing. But now she is a Japanese bride, 
going from her home to her husband. It is my duty to 
see that she goes as well prepared as is possible, according 
to the custom of her family. So it is decided.” 

Brother grumbled, but it is the women in a Japanese 
family who decide all things in connection with the “great 
interior,” so the preparations went on according to rule. 
Mother, however, conceded some things to Brother’s 
superior knowledge of America, and the rolls of silk and 
crepe-brocade which came arranged in the shape of storks, 
pine trees, and the many beautiful emblems for a happy 
life, were given to sisters and other relatives; and my doll 
festival set, which every girl takes with her to her hus- 
band’s home, was left behind. 

The question of my personal trousseau was so important 
that a family council was called. Brother’s ideas were 
positively startling. Most of the relatives were too 
honest to offer guessing suggestions, and none were well 
enough informed to make practical ones. Matters were 



SAILING UNKNOWN 'SEAS 151 

in a rather puzzling and still undecided state when the 
Tokyo uncle, whose opinion the majority of the relatives 
looked upon with respect, sided with Brother in favouring 
the American costume. 

“Among European people,” he said, “it is considered 
extreme discourtesy to expose the body. Even men, 
whose liberty is of course greater than that of women, 
have to wear high collars and stiff cuffs. The Japanese 
dress, being low in the neck and scanty of skirt, is improper' 
for wear among the European people.” 

Since most of my relatives knew almost nothing of 
foreign customs my uncle’s statement made a great im- 
pression. Mother looked very anxious, for this was a new 
aspect of the subject, but Honourable Grandmother’s 
loyal heart was wounded and aroused. To her, Japan was 
the land of the gods, and the customs of its people ought 
not to be criticized. Very quietly but with great dignity 
she protested. 

“According to pictures,” she said, “the pipe-shaped 
sleeves of the European costume lack grace. They are 
like the coats our coolies wear. It grieves me to think 
a time has come when my posterity are willing to humiliate 
themselves to the level of humble coolies.” 

Honourable Grandmother, being the most honoured one 
in the council, her opinion carried weight, and it was 
finally decided to prepare Japanese dress only, leaving 
my European clothes to be selected after I reached 
America.- Brother had arranged that I should travel in 
the care of Mr. Holmes, an English tea merchant, a 
business friend of my uncle’s, who, with his family, was 
returning to Europe by way of America. 

At last the day came when all arrangements were 
complete, all farewells said, and Brother and I had again 
started together on a trip to Tokyo. But by this time 
the puffing land-steamer had, step by step, advanced over, 


IS2 A DAUGHTER OF THE SAMURAI 

and through, the mountains, and our former journey of 
eight days was now reduced to eighteen hours of jolting, 
rattling discomfort. We did not talk much, but some- 
times at large stations we would get out for a few minutes 
of rest and change. At Takasaki we had just returned 
to our seats after a brisk walk up and down the platform 
when Brother anxiously stuck his head out of the window. 

» What is it?” I asked. 

“ I am looking to see if you left your wooden clogs on the 
platform again,” he replied with the old twinkle in his eye. 

We both laughed, and the remainder of the trip was a 
pleasant three hours which I like to remember. 

In Tokyo there were more dinners of red rice and whole 
fish, more useless, loving gifts, more farewells with warm 
heart throbs within and cool formal bows without, and then 
I found myself standing on the deck of a big steamer, with 
my brother by my side, and, on the water below, a waiting 
launch to take ashore the last friends of the passengers. 

The third long, hoarse blast of the warning whistle 
sounded, and with an odd tightness in my throat I bent 
in a deep, long bow. Brother stood close to my sleeve. 

“Little Etsu-bo,” he said, with a strange tenderness 
in his voice, “1 have been a poor brother, in whom you 
could not take pride; but I have never known an unselfish 
person — except you.” 

I saw his shadow bow, but when I lifted my head, he was 
in the crowd pressing toward the ship steps, his head held 
high and his laughing face lifted in a shout of farewell to 
Mr. Holmes. 

After the first few days the voyage was pleasant, but 
Mrs. Holmes, who was not very strong, was ill most of 
the way over and her maid was busy with the care of the 
baby; so I spent much time on the deck alone, either gazing 
quietly out over the water or reading one of several 
Japanese magazines that had been given me just as I 



SAILING UNKNOWN SEAS 


IS3 


started." Mr. Llolmes was most kind' and: attentive^ but 
I was not used to men, and was so silent that lie, knowing 
Japanese people, must have understood; for after the first 
day he would' see me comfortably settled in my deck' chair, 
then go away, leaving his own chair, next to mine, vacant 
except for the plate of fruit or cup of tea which he, would 
have occasionally sent to me. 

Because of my dress and the magazine, the passengers 
concluded that I could not understand English; and re- 
marks about me or about Japanese were frequently made 
within* my hearing by persons sitting near me. They 
were not unkind, but it seemed discourteous to be listening 
to words not meant for my ears, so one morning I took 
an English book up to the deck with me and was reading 
it when a lady, walking by, paused. 

see you understand English,’’ she said pleasantly, 
and remained for a little chat. She must have passed 
the news around, for after that I not only heard no more 
remarks about ^The quiet little Jap,” but, at various 
times, several ladies stopped for a short conversation. 
My place at the table "was beside Mrs. Holmes. She 
rarely came, but I never felt alone, for the other passengers, 
seeming to feel responsible for the American lady’s charge, 
were unceasingly kind in their attentions. Indeed there 
was an atmosphere of free action and cheerful speech 
among the passengers that was as refreshing as the salty, 
breezy air. Ever3mne said "‘Good-morning” to everyone 
else, friends or strangers, no one seemed to care. One 
day I saw two well-dressed ladies greet each other with a., 
merry “Hello! Wonderful ' morning, isn’t it? Let’s ; 
take our constitutional together,” and swinging into step, 
they marched off like a couple of soldier comrades. No 
bowing— no , formal words. Everything was ' free ' and 
cordial. This lack of formality was' very surprising, but 
it was most interesting, and it held a certain charm. 


1 54 A DAUGHTER OF THE SAMURAI 

Of cdurse I watched the dresses of these foreign ladies 
with the greatest interest. My uncle’s remarks regarding 
the low neck and scanty skirt of the Japanese dress had 
astonished and troubled me very much, and since I was 
the only Japanese woman on the ship among some fifty 
or sixty American ladies, I felt responsible not to disgrace 
my nation. The Japanese dress is so made that it can 
be properly worn only when put on in one certain way, 
but I, inspired with a combination of girlish modesty and 
loyal patriotism, tried to pull the embroidered folds at the 
neck close up to my chin; and I remained seated as much 
as possible so my scanty skirt would not be noticed. 

The weather was unpleasant at the beginning of the 
voyage, and few ladies came on deck, but it was not long 
before the promenading commenced, and then I began to 
suspect that my uncle’s opinion might not be wholly 
correct; but it was not until an evening entertainment 
where there was dancing that I entirely lost faith in his 
judgment. There the high collar and stiff cuffs of the 
gentlemen were to be seen, just as he had said; but I found 
that most of the ladies’ dresses were neither high in the 
neck nor full in the skirt, and I saw many other things 
which mystified and shocked me. The thin waists made 
of lawn and dainty lace were to me most indelicate, more 
so, I think, unreasonable though it seemed, than even 
the bare netk. I have seen a Japanese servant in the 
midst of heavy work in a hot kitchen, with her kimono 
slipped down, displaying one entire shoulder; and I have 
seen a woman nursing her baby in the street, or a naked 
woman in a hotel bath, but until that evening on the 
steamer I had never seen a woman publicly displaying 
bare skin just for the purpose of having it seen. For 
a while I tried hard to pretend to myself that I was not 
embarrassed, but finally, with my cheeks flaming with 
shame, I slipped away and crept into my cabin berth 



SAILING UNKNOWN SEAS 


m 

wondering greatly over the strange civilization of which 
I was so soon to be a part. 

I have no spirit of criticism in writing this. Indeed, 
after years of residence in this country I have so changed 
that I can look back with surprised amusement at my 
first impressions. ‘ The customs of all countries are strange 
to untrained eyes, and one of the most interesting mys- 
teries of my life here is my own gradual but inevitable 
mental evolution. Now I can go to a dinner or a dance 
and watch the ladies in evening dress with pleasure. To 
me the' scene is frequently as artistic and beautiful as a 
lovely painting, and I know those happy-faced women 
walking with the courteous gentlemen or swinging to 
the time of gay music are just as innocent and sweet 
of heart as are the gentle and hushed women of my own 
country over the sea. 

My experiences in San Francisco were strange and 
puzzling, but delightful in their novelty. The astonishing 
little room at the Palace Hotel which we had no sooner 
entered than it began to rise upward, finally depositing 
us in a large apartment where we had a view as vast as 
from a mountain-top; the smooth white bathtub which 
could be filled with hot water without fuel or delay; the 
locked doors ever3rwhere, for in Japan we never had a lock; 
all of these strange things, combined with the bewildering 
sense of the bigness of everything, was almost overpower- 
ing. 

This sense of the enormous size of things — ^wide 
streets, tall buildings, great trees — ^was also pronounced 
inside the hotel. The ceilings were lofty, the furniture 
was large, the chairs were high and the sofas were wide, 
with the back far from the front. Everything seemed 
made for a race of giants; which, after all, is not so far from 
the truth, fo- that is what Americans are — a great people, 
with nothing cramped or repressed about them; both 



iS6 A DAUGHTER OF THE SAMURAI 

admirable: and faulty in a giant way; with large: 
generous .purse, broad mind, strong heart, and free souL 
My first impression has never changed. 

We were in San Francisco only a few days, but every- 
thing was so hurried, so noisy, and so strange that my brain 
settled into a half-numb condition of non-expectancy. 
Then something happened. So simple, so homely a thing 
it was, that it stands out in my memory clear and separate 
from all else connected with my short stay in that wonder- 
ful city. A gentle, white-haired old minister, who had 
lived in Japan, came to make a friendly call. After the 
words of greeting he unwrapped a white box and placed it 
in my hand. 

thought you would like a bit of home after your 
long trip,'' he said. “Look inside and see what it is." 
I lifted the cover and what was my surprise to see real 
Japanese food, fresh and delicious. I must, long before, 
have heard my brother say that Japanese food could be 
obtained in America, but it had made no impression upon 
me, and I was as astonished as if I had expected never 
again to behold Japanese food. 

I looked up gratefully, and when I saw the humorous 
twinkle in his eye and kindliness in every feature of his 
smiling face, the strangeness of my surroundings melted 
away and there came my first throb of homesickness; 
for behind the gentle smile I saw the heart of my father. 
Years before, just after my father's death, Ishi had taken 
me to the Temple of the Five Hundred Buddhas, where 
stood row after row of big, carved images of stone or 
gilded wood. Every face was gentle, calm, and peaceful, 
and my lonely little heart searched each one, hoping to 
find my father's, for he too was now a Buddha. I did not 
know then that a longing . heart will recognize its own 
reflection in only a trifle; and when at last I saw a face — 
gentle, dignified, and with a kindly smile, I felt that it 



SAILING UNKNO'WN SEAS 


157 

pictured my father’s heart,' and I was satisfied:: ' 

; I saw my father in "the face of the old man whose kind heart 
had prompted the homely gift. , I love to remember that 
smile as my welcome to the strange' new country,' which 
ever after was to be linked in my heart so closely to my 
own. ■ 

During the long ride across the continent I was reminded 
constantly of the revolving lanterns which were so fasci- 
nating to me as a child. The rapidly changing views from 
the train were like the gay scenes on the lantern panels 
that flitted by too quickly to permit of a clear image; 
their very vagueness being the secret of their charm. 

Mr. and Mrs. Holmes came as far as a large city near 
my future home where they placed me in charge of a 
lady schoolteacher, a friend of Mrs. Holmes. Then 
they said good-bye and slipped out of my life, probably 
for ever. But they left a memory of kindness and con- 
sideration which will remain with me always. 

When I was whirled into the dusky station of the city 
of my destination, I peered rather curiously from the car 
window. I was not anxious. I had always been taken 
care of, and it did not trouble me that I was to meet one 
I had never known before. On the crow^ded platform 
I saw a young Japanese man, erect, alert, watching 
eagerly each person who stepped from the train. It was 
Matsuo. He wore a gray suit and a straw hat, and to 
me looked modern, progressive, foreign in everything 
except his* face. Of course, he knew who I was at once 
but to my astonishment, his first words were, '^^Why did 
you wear Japanese dress.?” There flashed into my mind 
a picture of the grave faces of the family council and my 
grandmother’s words regarding pipe-sleeves. Yet here 
was I in a land of pipe-sleeves, gazing upon my future 
husband, a pipe-sleeved man. I laugh about it now, but 
then I was only a lonely, loose-sleeved, reproved little 



158 A DAUGHTER OF THE SAMURAI 

girl. Matsuo’s disappointment in my dress was mostly 
on account of a much-honoured friend, Mrs. Wilson, the 
kind lady about whom Matsuo had written in the letter 
which for years was kept in Mother’s shrine. With 
thoughtful kindness she had sent Matsuo in her carriage 
to meet me, and he, anxious that I should appear well in 
her eyes, was disgusted not to find me very up-to-date 
and progressive. 

I silently took my place beside Matsuo in the shining 
carriage with its prancing black horses and uniformed 
coachman, and in absolute silence we rolled along the 
busy streets and up the long, sloping hill to a beautiful 
suburban home. I did not realize that the situation was 
perhaps as trying to him as to me; for I had never been 
so close to a man in my life, except my father, and I almost 
died on that trip. 

The carriage turned into a road that circled a spa- 
cious lawn and stopped before a large gray house with 
a wide, many-columned porch. Outside the door stood 
a stately lady and a tall white-haired gentleman. The 
lady greeted me with outstretched hands and cordial 
words of welcome. I was too grateful to reply, and when 
I looked up into the noble, kindly face of the white-haired 
gentleman beside her, peace crept into my heart, for, 
behind his gentle smile, again I saw the heart of my father. 

Those two good people will never know until they stand 
within the shining gates where heavenly knowledge clears 
our eyes, how much their kindness, both before- and after 
our wedding, meant to Matsuo and to me. 

For ten restful days I was made welcome in that beau- 
tiful home; then came the second of “The Three 
Inevitables” — for, in Old Japan, marriage held its place 
equally with birth and death. My wedding took place 
on a beautiful day in June. The sun shone, the soft wind 
murmured through the branches of the grand old trees 



SAILING UNKNOWN SEAS 


IS9 

OB the lawn, the reception room, with its treasures of art 
gathered from all lands, was fragrant with blossoms, and 
before a wonderful inlaid console table were two crossed 
flags — ^American and Japanese. There Matsuo and Etsu 
stood while the Christian words were spoken which made 
them one. By Matsuo^s side was liis business partner, 
a good kind man, and beside me stood one who ever since 
has proved my best and truest friend. So we were, 
married. Everyone said it was a beautiful wedding. To 
me the room was filled with a blur of strange things and 
people^ all throbbing with the spirit of a great kindness; 
and vaguely, mistily, I realized that there had been ful- 
filled a sacred vow that the gods had made long before I 
was born. 

Our friend, Mrs. Wilson, was always kind to me, and 
I have been a happy and grateful guest in her beautiful 
home many, many times; but my permanent home was 
in an adjoining suburb, in a large, old-fashioned frame 
house set on a hill in the midst of big trees and lawns 
cut with winding gravel paths. The mistress of this 
house was a widowed relative of Mrs. Wilson, a woman in 
whom was united the stern, high-principled stock of New 
England with the gentle Virginia aristocracy. She in- 
vited us for a visit at first, because she loved Japan. 
But we were all so happy together that we decided not 
to separate; so for many years our home was there with 
^^Mother,^^ as we learned to call her. Close to my own 
mother in my heart of hearts stands my American mother 
— one of the noblest, sweetest women that God ever made. 

From the love and sympathy and wisdom of this pleas- 
ant home I looked forth upon America at its best, and 
learned to gather with understanding and appreciation 
the knowledge that had been denied my poor brother in 
his narrow life in this same land. 


CHAPTER XVII 


FIRST IMPRESSIONS 

TyTY FIRST year in America was a puzzling, hurried 
I push from one partially comprehended thought to 
another. Nevertheless it was a happy year. No' Japa- 
nese bride is ever homesick. She has known from baby- 
hood that fate has another home waiting for her, and that 
there her destiny is to be fulfilled. Every girl accepts 
this in the same matter-of-course way that she accepts 
going to school. In marriage, she does not expect happi- 
ness without hardship any more than she expects school 
to be a playground with no study. 

So I drifted on from week to week, occasionally having 
to remind myself that, even in America, the “eyelids of 
a samurai know not moisture,” but, on the whole, finding 
the days full of new and pleasing experiences. I soon 
learned to like everything about my home, although, 
at first, the curtained windows, the heavy, dark furniture, 
the large pictures and the carpeted floors seemed to hem 
me in. 

But I revelled in our wide porches and the broad 
lawn which swept in a graceful slope, between, curving 
paths, down to the low stone wall. The battlemented 
top was like an elongated castle turret, and the big 
stone posts of the iron gates, half hidden from the 
porch by tall evergreens, seemed to me to have a protecting 
air. Then there was one big, crooked pine and an icho 
tree, standing side by side, which when the moon was 



FIRST IMPRESSIONS i6i 

just right, made a perfect picture of an old Japanese 
poem: 

^‘Between bent branches, a silver sickle swings aloft in youthful in- 
completeness, unkno'wing of its coming day of glory/’ 

Oh, I did love all the outdoors of that home, from the very 
first moment that I saw it! 

Much of my time was spent on one or the other of our 
three big porches, for Mother loved them almost as much 
as I did, and we used to go out the first thing after break- 
fast, she with her sewing and I with the newspaper. In 
order to improve my English I read the paper every day, 
and I found it very interesting. I always turned first to 
the list of divorces in the court news. It was such a 
surprising thing to me that more women than men should 
be seeking for freedom. One day I told Mother that 
I felt sorry for the husbands. 

‘^Why?'^ she asked. ‘^It is as often the fault of the 
husband as the wife, I think. Isn’t it so in Japan?” 

^^But after choosing for herself it must be hard for her 
wifely pride to acknowledge failure,” I replied. 

"^How about the man?” said Mother. 

“He sees, and wants, and beckons; 

She blushes, and smiles, and comes — 

or not, as she pleases. That is her part: to come or not 
to come.” 

“Why, I thought it was the custom in American mar- 
riages for thewoman to select,” I said, somewhat surprised; 
for I, with most Japanese people of that day, so interpreted 
the constant references in books and papers to the Amer- 
ican custom of “women choosing their own husbands.” 
It was one of many exaggerated ideas that we had of the 
dominant spirit of American women and the submissive 
attitude of American men. In the conversation that 


i 62 a daughter of THE SAMURAI 

followed I heard for the first time that in this country 
the custom is for the worded request always to come from 
the man. 

“It is like the folk tale that tells of the origin of our 
race,” I said. 

“That sounds as if it might be more interesting than 
the court items in the newspaper,” laughed Mother. 
“ Suppose you tell me about it.” 

“It’s rather a long story from the beginning,” I said; 
“but the important part is that a god and goddess named 
Izanagi and Izanami — our Adam and Eve — cameVfrom 
Heaven on a floating bridge and formed the islands of 
Japan. Then they decided to remain and build them- 
selves a home. So they went to the Heavenly Post for the 
ceremony of marriage. The bride starting from the right 
and the bridegroom from the left, they walked around 
the Heavenly Post. When they met on the other side, 
the goddess exclaimed: 

“‘Thou beautiful god!’ 

“The god was displeased and said the bride had spoiled 
the ceremony, as it was his place to speak first. So they 
had to begin again. The goddess started again from the 
right of the Heavenly Post, and the god from the left; 
but this time, when they met, the goddess did not speak 
until she was spoken to. 

“‘Thou beautiful goddess!’ Izanagi said. 

“‘Thou beautiful god!’ replied Izanami. 

“As this time the ceremony was properly performed, the 
husband and the wife built themselves a home, and from 
them came the nation of Japan.” 

“So it seems that Japanese and American marriages 
were originally not so unlike, after all,” said Mother. 

One of the most surprising things in America to me was 
the difficulty and often impossibility of my being able 
to do, as a wife, the very things for whiclv I had been 



FIRST- IMPRESSIONS: 


i6$ 

especially trained. Matsuo had come ' to this country 
when he was' a boy in his teens, and was as unfamiliar 
with many Japanese customs as I was with those of 
America; so, with no realization on his part of my prob- 
lems, I had many puzzling experiences connected with 
wifely duty. Some of these were tragic and' some amusing. 

At one time, for several evenings in succession, business 
detained Matsuo until a late hour. I was not well and 
Mother objected to my sitting up to await ■ his return. 
This troubled me greatly; for in Japan it is considered 
lazy and disgraceful for a wife to sleep while her husband 
is working. Night after night I lay with wide-open eyes, 
wondering whom it was my duty to obey— my far-away 
mother who knew Japanese customs, or the honoured new 
mother, who was teaching me the ways of America. 

I had another puzzling time when Mother was called 
away for a week by the death of a relative. Our maid, 
Clara, had heard Japan spoken of as ^‘the land of cherry 
blossoms,’^ and, thinking to please me, she made a cherry 
pie one night for dinner. In Japan cherry trees are 
cultivated for the blossoms only, just as roses are in 
America, and I had never seen cherry fruit; but the odour 
of the pie was delicious as it was placed before me to cut 
and' serve. 

^^What is that?’^ asked Matsuo. “Oh, cherry pie! 
It^s too acid. I donT care for 

No Japanese bride is so disrespectful as to eat a dainty 
her husband cannot enjoy, so I gave orders for that beauti- 
ful pie to be eaten in the kitchen. But my heart followed 
it, and no pie that I have .ever seen '- since^ has / seemed;' 
worthy to compare with that juicily delicious memory. 

Clara was always doing kind things for me, and one 

'day I; asked .Matsuo ' what I could give her as ; a /present. - 

He said that' in America ' money was always welcome; so 
I selected a new bill- and,/. as we do in Japan, ^wrapped" 



i 62 a daughter of THE SAMURAI 

followed I heard for the first time that in this country 
the custom is for the worded request always to come from 
the man. 

“It is like the folk tale that tells of the origin of our 
race,” I said. 

“That sounds as if it might be more interesting than 
the court items in the newspaper,” laughed Mother. 
“Suppose you tell me about it.” 

“It’s rather a long story from the beginning,” I said; 
“but the important part is that a god and goddess named 
Izanagi and Izanami — our Adam and Eve — came* from 
Heaven on a floating bridge and formed the islands of 
Japan. Then they decided to remain and build them- 
selves a home. So they went to the Heavenly Post for the 
ceremony of marriage. The bride starting from the right 
and the bridegroom from the left, they walked around 
the Heavenly Post. When they met on the other side, 
the goddess exclaimed : 

“Thou beautiful god!’ 

“The god was displeased and said the bride had spoiled 
the ceremony, as it was his place to speak first. So they 
had to begin again. The goddess started again from the 
right of the Heavenly Post, and the god from the left; 
but this time, when they met, the goddess did not speak 
until she was spoken to. 

“Thou beautiful goddess!’ Izanagi said. 

“Thou beautiful god!’ replied Izanami. 

“As this time the ceremony was properly performed, the 
husband and the wife built themselves a home, and from 
them came the nation of Japan.” 

“So it seems that Japanese and American marriages 
were originally not so unlike, after all,” said Mother. 

One of the most surprising things in America to me was 
the difficulty and often impossibility of my being able 
to do, as a wife, the very things for which- 1 had been 



FIRST IMPRESSIONS 


163 

especially trained. Matsuo had come to this country 
when he was a boy in his teens, and was as unfamiliar 
with many Japanese customs as I was with those of 
America; so, with no realization on his part of my prob- 
lems, I had many puzzling experiences connected with 
wifely duty. Some of these were tragic and some amusing. 

At one time, for several evenings in succession, business 
detained Matsuo until a late hour. I was not well and 
Mother objected to my sitting up to await his return. 
This troubled me greatly; for in Japan it is considered 
lazy and disgraceful for a wife to sleep while her husband 
is working. Night after night I lay with wide-open eyes, 
wondering whom it was my duty to obey — my far-away 
mother who knew Japanese customs, or the honoured new 
mother, who was teaching me the ways of America. 

I had another puzzling time when Mother was called 
away for a week by the death of a relative. Our maid, 
Clara, had heard Japan spoken of as “the land of cherry 
blossoms,” and, thinking to please me, she made a cherry 
pie one night for dinner. In Japan cherry trees are 
cultivated for the blossoms only, just as roses are in 
America, and I had never seen cherry fruit; but the odour 
of the pie was delicious as it was placed before me to cut 
and serve. 

“What is that?” asked Matsuo. “Oh, cherry pie! 
It’s too acid. I don’t care for it.” 

No Japanese bride is so disrespectful as to eat a dainty 
her husband cannot enjoy, so I gave orders for that beauti- 
ful pie to be eaten in the kitchen. But my heart followed 
it, and no pie that I have ever seen since has seemed 
worthy to compare with that juicily delicious memory. 

Clara was always doing kind things for me, and one 
day I asked Matsuo what I could give her as a present. 
He said that in America money was always welcome; so 
T selected a new bill and, as we do in Japan, wrapped 



i 64 A daughter of the SAMURAI 

it in white paper and wrote on the outside, “This is 
cake.” 

How Matsuo did laugh! 

“ It’s all right in America to give naked money,” he said. 

“ But that is only for beggars,” I replied, really troubled. 

“Nonsense!” said Matsuo. “Americans consider 
money an equivalent for service. There is no spiritual 
value in money.” 

T meditated a good deal over that; for to a Japanese 
the expression of thanks, however deceitful the fqrm it 
takes, is a heart-throb. 

I liked our servants, but they were a never-ending 
surprise to me. Mother was kindness itself to the maid 
and to the man who worked on the place; but she had no 
vital interest in them, and they had no unselfish interest 
in us. In my home in Japan the servants were minor 
members of the family, rejoicing and sorrowing with us 
and receiving in return our cordial interest in their affairs. 
But this did not mean undue familiarity. There al- 
ways existed an invisible line “at the doorsill,” and I 
never knew a servant to overstep it or wish to; for a 
Japanese servant takes pride in the responsibility of his 
position. Clara attended to her duties properly, but her 
pleasures were outside the home; and on the days of her 
“afternoon out,” she worked with such astonishing 
energy that it suggested no thought of anything but getting 
through. I could not help contrasting her with gentle, 
polite Toshi and her dignified bows of farewell. 

But, on the other hand, Clara voluntarily did things for 
us which I should never have expected from any maid in 
Japan except my own nurse. One day I cringed with 
a feeling akin to horror when I heard Matsuo carelessly 
call out, “Clara, won’t you take these shoes to the kitchen 
porch for William to clean ?” 

Such a request of a Japanese servant, other than the one 



FIRST IMPRESSIONS 


i6s 

whose duty it was to care for the sandals, would be con- 
sidered an insult; but Clara picked up the shoes and 
carried them away, singing cheerily as she went. Life 
in America was very puzzling. 

All Japanese girls are trained in housework, so naturally 
I was much interested in watching how everything was 
done in my American home. Mother encouraged my 
curiosity, saying that the inquiring mind is the one that 
learns; and Clara was always patient in explaining jto 
*^that sweet little Mrs. Sugarmoter.’^ I was interested 
in the kitchen most of all, but the things to work with were 
so heavy, and were hung so high, and the shelves were so 
far up, that when I attempted to do anything there I 
found myself at a serious disadvantage. For the first 
time I sympathized with foreigners in Tokyo, who, it was 
said, frequently complained of the inconvenient little- 
ness^^ of everything. One of the schoolgirls used to tell 
us amusing tales about a foreign family to whom her 
father had rented his house. The man had to bow his 
head every time he passed through a doorway, and his 
wife thought it dreadful that the servant wanted to cut 
vegetables on a table six inches from the floor and to wash 
dishes without soap. 

All the schoolgirls thought that that woman must have 
a peculiar mind, for we understood that foreigners used 
soap as we did a bran-bag— for bathing only. But after 
seeing how lavishly Clara used boiling water and soap 
in the kitchen, I realized that it was necessary, because 
so much grease and oil are used in American cooking. 
Our Japanese food was mostly vegetables. For fish 
we had special dishes and washed them with charcoal 
::ashes.. ■ 

One Friday, which was our cleaning day, I went into 
my room and was surprised to find Clara rubbing my 
bureau with an oiled cloth. 



OF THE SAMURAI 

“What are you doing, Clara?” I asked. 

“Oh, just cleanin’ up a bit, Mrs. Sugarmoter,” she re- 
plied. 

To put something sticky on a thing to make it clean was 
incomprehensible. But when I examined my bureau later 
and found that it was dry and shiny, and clean, I was still 
more surprised. None of the wood of Japanese houses, 
outside or in, was ever varnished, oiled, or painted; and 
nothing was ever put on furniture except lacquer to 
preserve, or hot water to cleanse. Taki and Kin wiped the 
entire woodwork of the house every day with a cloth wrung 
out of hot water; and our porches were cleaned, morning 
and evening, by a servant, who, stooping over and pushing 
a steaming pad of folded cloth before her, ran quickly back 
and forth, from one end of the porch to the other, care- 
fully following the line of the boards. The porches had 
gradually become so dark and polished that they reflected 
distinctly any person walking on them, and since they 
never were stepped on with outside shoes, they kept their 
satiny polish for years. 

I was always interested in housework, but an exciting 
interest came at the time of house-cleaning. Then I 
wandered from room to room, watching with amazement 
and delight while William and Clara worked. I had 
never dreamed that the heavy cloth which covered the 
floors, fitting so neatly into each corner and around the 
projections, was nailed down and could be lifted up in one 
immense piece and carried out to be cleaned. Two men 
were required to do the work. Our floors in Japan were 
covered with mats that pushed together as tight as the 
pieces in a box of dominoes, but each mat was only six 
feet by three in size, and Jiya could easily handle them 
alone. 

Matsuo and I had adjoining rooms, and when. I went 
upstairs to see if the cloth had been taken from his floor 



FIRST IMPRESSIONS 


167 

also, I saw that the large mahogany closet, which I had 
supposed was a part of the house, had been pulled out 
bodily into the middle of the room. I was too surprised 
for words. And its back — and indeed the backs of all 
our beautiful furniture — ^was only rough boards; just such 
as I had seen in Japan on a cart being taken to the shop 
of a carpenter. It was most astonishing. I had never 
before seen any furniture that was not planed and polished 
all over — outside, inside, top, bottom, and back. 

Mother explained that this American deceit originated 
in the 'practical idea of saving time and work. Thus 
I received my first insight into the labour problem. 

It was during house-cleaning that Mother and I had 
our first heart-to-heart talk. She was looking over some 
trunks of clothing in the attic, and I was sitting near, 
holding a big cake of camphor, from which I broke off 
small pieces and wrapped them in tissue paper for her 
to place between the folds of the garments. She was 
showing me an army coat which her grandfather had 
worn in the War of 1812. The open trunks, the disar- 
ranged clothing, the familiar odour of camphor in the air, 
reminded me of the airing-days at home. I could see 
so well Grandmother’s room where F ather and I always 
went to get away from the ropes of swaying garments and 
the confusion of busy servants brushing and folding. 

“What are you thinking of, Etsu?” asked Mother, 
with a smile. “Your eyes look as if they were seeing 
things five thousand miles away.” 

“More than that,” I answered, “for they are looking 
into a past before I was born.” 

I leaned over and stroked the big collar of the old army 
coat on Mother’s lap. In some way it seemed, just then, 
the nearest to my heart of anything in America. 

“In our godown also. Mother,” I said, “are sacred 
mementoes to which war memories cling. There is a pile 



i68 A DAUGHTER OF THE SAMURAI 


of thin-leaved books written in my father's hand, which 
are dear treasures to us alL You do not know, Mother, 
but my father was a prisoner once — held as hostage for a 
long time in an army camp. His surroundings were very 
diiferent from what the word suggests here in America. 
The camp was located in a temple grove, and the part 
of the temple where the priests lived was given over to 
the officials and their high-rank prisoner; and although . 
Father was alone among enemies, he was treated as an 
honoured guest. 

‘‘His faithful attendant was separated from him, but 
instead, were youthful samurai, who with respectful at- 
tention cared for every want. For recreation they had 
trials in art defencing and various samurai sports; and 
sometimes, as was the social custom among samurai, they 
would spend hours together in poem competition or in 
singing classic songs of Old Japan. He had every physical 
comfort and mental recreation, but he was outside the 
world. Even his books were poems and prose of fine old 
literature which held no word of present life. At the close 
of each monotonous day he would lay his head upon his 
pillow and his restless mind would wonder — ^wonder: 
Had the Imperialist army reached Echigo.? Who was in 
charge of Nagaoka Castle? What was the unknown fate 
of his retainers? of his son? of his wife and daughters? 

‘‘There was a beautiful garden where he walked daily. 
Perhaps there were guards outside the gate. He did not 
know. He saw nothing to tell him that he was not free, 
and probably there was nothing, for his guardians knew 
that he was held by chains stronger than any that could 
be forged — the spirit of samurai honour, 

“During this lonely time Father's dearest hours were 
those he spent with his writing brushes and in games of' 
go with the commander-general— a man of superior cul- 
ture, who often came to talk with him. The two men 



FIRST IMPRESSIONS 


169: 

had similar tastes and an equal sense of honour-— difFering 
only in that they were loyal to different masters— and 
those months together formed and sealed the friendship 
of a lifetime. Both were fond of playing ^0 and both 
played well and earnestly. Neither spoke his secret 
thought, but, long afterward. Father confided to Mother 
that he was conscious that in every game they played 
each in his own heart was fighting for his own cause. 
Sometimes one would win, sometimes the other; oftener 
still there was a draw; but always the vanquished gravely 
congratulated the victor, and as gravely received his 
formal thanks in reply. 

^^So passed the days, and weeks, and months, and more 
months and more, until he dreaded to think back and 
count. And not a word or look or hint had come to him 
of any world outside the temple walls. 

‘^Late one beautiful spring afternoon he was sitting 
quietly in his room overlooking the garden. A priestly 
chanting was faintly heard from distant rooms. There 
was a breeze, and falling cherry blossoms were drifting 
across the garden, their fragrant petals slipping and 
catching in tinted drifts against the uneven stepping- 
stones. A young moon was chasing shadows in the pine 
branches. It was a picture Father never forgot. 

''A young attendant approached, and in his usual 
deferential manner, but with grave face, announced, 
^Honourable Guest, the evening meal is served/ 

‘‘Father bowed his head and the little lacquer table was 
brought and placed before him on the mat. 

“At last the expected message had come. The rice 
bowl was on the right, the soup was on the left; the chop- 
sticks were standing upright as if to place before a shrine, 
and the browned fish in the oval dish was without a head. 
It was the silent command from a samurai to a samurai. 

“Father ate his dinner as usual When the time came 


170 A DAUGHTER OF THE SAMURAI 

for his bath, the attendant was ready. His hair was 
washed, and the queue, no longer needed to bear the 
helmet’s weight, was left unoiied and loose, to be tied 
with a paper cord. He donned his white linen death-robe 
and over it placed the soft-tinted kamishimo of the samurai 
who goes to death. Then quietly he waited for the mid- 
night hour. 

“The commander-general entered, and greeted him * 
with the soldierly stilfness that hides deep feeling. 

“ ‘I come not as an official of the State,’ he said, ‘but as 
a friend, to ask you to honour me with a message.’ 

‘“1 thank you deeply,’ Father replied, ‘for this and 
other kindness. I left my home to return no more. I 
gave instructions then. I have no message.’ 

“But he asked that the Commander would care for 
his attendant who, by Father’s death, would become a 
masterless man. The General assured him that this should 
be done; and also told him that his own highest retainer 
would be Father’s attendant at the last. Thanks were 
bowed and formal courtesies exchanged, then these two 
men, who had grown to know and respect each other 
deeply, parted with no other word. It seems cold to an 
American; but it was the samurai way, and each knew the 
other’s heart. 

“The hour came. Father held the highest rank of the 
seven who waited for the midnight hour; so, first and alone, 
clothed in his death-robe and with the pride of centuries 
in his bearing, he walked toward the temple yard. As 
he entered the enclosure, the others on the opposite side, 
white-robed and silent, were waiting. One was a child 
with an attendant close behind. Father saw — saw without 
looking — the gray face and strained eyes of Minoto, his 
own little son’s guardian. 

“The child made a motion, so slight it was scarcely 
more than a quiver. Minoto clutched the boy’s sleeves. 



FIRST IMPRESSIONS 171 

Father strode on. The quiver passed, the boy sat erect, 
his eyes looking straight forward. It was my brother. 
Oh, whatever he has been since, in this new world so 
unfamiliar to him, there, in his own world — the world 
which by inheritance and environment he understood— 
he was a samurai! My father took his place with calm 
and dignified bearing with his head upright and his eyes 
looking straight forward — unseeing. But in his heart— — 
Oh, why could not the God he did not know pity him?” 
And I clutched the big collar of the old army coat and 
buried my coward face within its folds — for I had lost 
my samurai spirit. America had been too good to me, 
and part of me had died. I felt Mother’s hand upon 
my shoulder but I dared not lift my head and shame 
my father, for moisture was on the face of his un-brave 
daughter. 

“Oh, my little girl! My dear little girl! But he did 
not die! He did not die!” 

I lifted my head, but I did not wipe my eyes. 

“The war had ended, and the new Government had 
pardoned all political prisoners,” I said, calm again. “The 
decision was already known to the officials, and the 
messengers were on the way; but, until they came, the 
forms had to be carried out to the very end.” 

“Yes, I have known of things like that in the days 
when messages were carried by galloping horses and 
running men,” said Mother sadly. “And no one Was to 
blame. If laws could be changed by unproved knowledge, 
the country would soon be guided by guesswork. And 
that would never do! That would never dol” 

I looked at Mother in surprise, for with red cheeks and 
misty eyes she was clutching tight the army coat on her 
lap and looking straight at me. 

“How close together are the countries of the world,” 
she went on. “Your old nurse was right, Etsu, when she 


A DAUGHTER OF THE SAMURAI 

said that the earth is flat and you are on the other side of 
the plate, not far away, but out of sight.” 

Then we both smiled, but Mother’s lips were trembling. 
She put her arm around me gently, and — I’ve loved Mother 
ever since! 

Another “memory stone” in my life was the day that 
I entertained the club. Mother belonged to a literary 
society the members of which studied about different 
countries and wrote essays. The meetings were held 
at the homes of the members, and early on the morning 
of the very day that it was Mother’s turn to entertain she 
received a message calling her to the city for a “between 
trains” visit with a dear friend who was passing through 
the city on her way to a distant land. Mother would 
be back before the meeting was over, but I was dismayed 
to be left with the responsibility of arranging the rooms 
and receiving the guests. 

“There is nothing for you to be worried about,” said 
Matsuo who was just starting to his business. “I heard 
Mother tell William to bring more chairs from upstairs and 
you have only to see that he places them like in a church. 
Clara knows how.” 

“ But Mother meant to have flowers, and she said some- 
thing about a little table for the president and— Oh, the 
piano has to be pushed back! Mother said so. I do 
wish she were here ! ” I cried, in real anxiety and distress. 

“ Don’t make a mountain out of a mole-hill ! Clara is 
equal to anything”; and Matsuo ran across the lawn in 
response to the waving hand of a neighbour who was 
waiting in his buggy at the iron gates. 

I knew he was right, for Clara had cleaned the rooms 
the day before, and everything really necessary had been 
done; but, nevertheless, I felt lost and helpless. 

In the midst of my hour of woe I saw walking up the 
path around the lawn an old lady of the neighbourhood 



FIRST IMPRESSIONS 


175 

who sometimes came in for an informal chat with Mother. 
I ran out and welcomed her most cordially, eager to ask 
her advice. 

“The piano is not in the way,” she said. “These 
rooms are large enough as they are, even if everyone 
comes. You won’t have to do a thing except put in more 
chairs. “But” — and she looked around the big double 
.parlours with the lace-curtained windows and the long 
mirror with gilded frame — “the rooms do look empty 
with the centre table taken out. Why don’t you scat- 
ter about some of those Japanese trinkets that you have 
upstairs? They would add wonderfully to the general 
effect.” 

As soon as she was gone I brought dovm several Japanese 
things and placed them here and there about the room. 
Then I arranged a few iris blossoms in a vase according 
to the graceful, but rigid, rules of Japanese flower arrange- 
ment; and stepped back to view the effect. 

From the flowers my eyes went slowly around the room. 
I was disappointed. What was wrong? The Japanese 
articles were each one of rare workmanship, and the vase 
of blossoms was beautiful; but for some mysterious reason 
Mother’s parlours never before had looked so unattractive. 
Suddenly my eye fell on a little bronze incense burner, 
which had been given me in my childhood, by one of the 
Toda children, for my doll festival set. It looked oddly 
out of place on top of the American bookcase; and when, 
lifting my. eyes, I saw above it an etching of a dancing 
faun, I almost hysterically snatched it away. With 
lightning swiftness my mind flew to the cool, light rooms 
of my Nagaoka home — ^to the few ornaments, each in the 
place designed for it — and I began to understand. My 
Japanese treasures would be beautiful in their proper 
surroundings, but here they were neither beautiful them- 
selves, nor did they add to the attractiveness of our stately 


174 A DAUGHTER OF THE SAMURAI 

rooms. They were only odd, grotesque curios. Hurriedly 
putting them away and removing my carefully arranged 
vase of iris to the kitchen, I ran to a field back of our 
carriage house and gathered an armful of daisies and 
feathery grasses. Soon I had all the vases in the house, 
regardless of shape or hue, loosely filled with the fresh, 
wild blossoms. The rooms looked beautiful, and they 
were in perfect harmony with the broad lawn outside, 
stretching in rolling waves of green down to the gray 
stone wall. 

“West is West, and East is East,” I said, as I sank on 
a sofa with a sigh of relief. “I think while I’m here I’ll 
forget the conventional standard of beauty; for only the 
charm of naturalness is suited to these big, free, homelike 
rooms of Mother’s.” 



CHAPTER XVIII 


STRANGE CUSTOMS 

HAD a large stone church in our suburb which 
was not quite paid for, and a society of church- 
women called “The Ladies’ Aid” occasionally gave a fair 
or concert and sometimes a play with local talent, in order 
to obtain money to add to the fund. 

One evening Mother, Matsuo, and I attended one of 
these concerts. On the programme was a vocal solo of 
some classic selection. The singer was the gifted daughter 
of a wealthy citizen and had received her musical edu- 
cation in Europe. I knew her as a rather quiet young 
woman with a gentle voice and dignified manner; therefore 
I was surprised, when the music began, to see her step 
forward briskly and informally, bow smilingly to the 
audience, right and left, and then, with much facial ex- 
pression, give a vocal exhibition of high, clear trills and 
echoes that to my untrained ears was a strange and 
marvellous discord, but the most wonderful thing that I 
had ever heard in my life. 

The effect left on my mind was of brightness, quick 
motion, and high-pitched sound. In strong contrast is 
our classic music, which always suggests subdued colours, 
slow movement, and deep, mellow tones. Also, like most 
Japanese art, our music requires listening eyes as well as 
ears. Otherwise its appeal is lost. 

Our classic stage is always the same. The entire back 
is one solid board of natural cedar wood, on which is 
painted a gigantic dwarf pine. The floor is of camphor 

17 ?; 


176 A DAUGHTER OF THE SAMURAI,;: , 

wood and is bare. On this the singers, whoj of course^ 
are always men, sit as motionless as dolls. Their dress 
is the old-fashioned, soft-hued garment of ceremony. ' 
Each one, before beginning to sing, makes a slow, deep 
bow, and, with studied deliberation, places his fan hori- 
zontally before him on the floor. Then, with his ' hands ^ 
on his knees, palms down, and sitting very erect and 
motionless, he tells in song, and with incredible elocution- - 
ary power, some wonderful tale of war and romance; but 
wholly without movement of body or change of facial 
expression. 

At the close the singer’s face is often flushed with feel- 
ing, but, with no change of expression, he bows, then 
gently takes up his fan and resumes his former impassive 
attitude. The audience sits in profound silence. The 
listeners may be touched to tears or raised to the highest 
pitch of excitement, but this can be detected only by 
the sound of subdued sniffling or the catch of a quick sigh. 
For centuries repression has been the keynote of every- 
thing of a high character, and the greatest tribute that can 
be paid to a singer or an actor of classic drama is to be 
received in deep silence. 

One thing in America, to which I could not grow ac- 
customed, was the joking attitude in regard to women 
and money. From men and women of all classes, from 
newspapers, novels, lecturers, and once even from the 
pulpit, I heard allusions to amusing stories of women 
secreting money in odd places, coaxing it from their 
husbands, borrowing it from a friend, or saving it secretly 
for some private purpose. There was never anything dis- 
honourable implied in this. Perhaps the money was saved 
to get new curtains for the parlour, or even a birthday 
present for the husband. These jokes were a puzzle to 
me — and a constantly growing one; for as time passed on, 

I myself saw things which made me realize that probably 



STRANGE CUSTOMS 


■i?7' 

a foundation of serious truth might lie beneath some of the 
amusing stories. 

> Our suburb was^ small and we were ali interested in each 
^ other’s affairs^ so I was acquainted with almost everybody. 
I knew the ladies to be women of education and culture^ 
yetthere seemed to be among them a universal and openly 
confessed lack of responsibility about money. They all 
dressed well and seemed to have money for specific 
purposes, but no open purse to use with free and respon- 
sible judgment. Once, at a church fair, where I had a 
table, several ladies, after walking around the hall and 
examining the various booths, had bought some small, 
cheap articles, but left the expensive ones, saying, ^^My 
husband will be here later on and FIl get him to buy it,” or 
^^When the gentlemen come those high-priced things will 
sell.” I had never known a Japanese man to buy any- 
thing for his home, or be expected to. 

Once, when I was shopping with a friend, she stopped 
at her husband’s office to ask him for money. I thought 
that was strange enough, but a still more curious thing 
happened when I went with Mother to a meeting of the 
church ladies where they were raising a certain amount 
for some* unusual purpose. The Ladies’ Aid had recently 
made a great many calls on the husbands’ purses, and so 
this time each member had pledged herself to bring five 
dollars which she must obtain without asking her husband 
for it. The meeting I attended was the one where the: 
money w^s handed in, each ..lady telling, as she' gave: it,:, 
how she had succeeded, in getting her five dollars. /Most' 
had saved it in various, ways,' a little at a time. : One said ; 
that she had made .a , real ' sacrifice and returned to :.he;^^^ 
milliner a new hat— paid for, but not worn— receiving -in. 
exchange one that'was five dollars Iess: in, priGe. ' Another 
had sold two theatre tickets. . which had been , given; 

Still another told, in' very' witty.rhyme,, how shej'a p 



178 A DAUGHTER OF THE SAMURAI 

Ladies’ Aid lady, had spent most of her leisure time for a 
week, and had pledged herself for a week longer, in darning 
stockings for the children of her neighbour, a rich non- 
Ladies’ Aid lady. 

The meeting was intensely interesting. It reminded 
me of our poem-making parties, only of course this was 
gayer and these stories were on an undignified subject. 

I enjoyed it all until a pretty, bright, and beautifully - 
dressed woman rose and said that she didn’t know how to 
save money and she didn’t know how to earn it. She 
had promised not to cheat in her charge account at the 
store, and she had promised not to ask her husband for the 
five dollars, so she had done the only thing that was left 
for her to do: she had stolen it from her husband’s pocket 
when he was asleep. 

This report caused a great deal of merriment, but I was 
saddened. All the reports seemed tragic after she said, 
“That was the only thing left to do.” It seemed in- 
credible, here in America, where women are free and 
commanding, that a woman of dignity and culture, the 
mistress of a home, the mother of children, should be 
forced either to ask her husband for money, or be placed in 
a humiliating position. 

When I left home, Japan, at large, was still following 
the old custom of educating a girl to be responsible for the 
well-being of her entire family — husband included. The 
husband was the lord of the family; but the wife was mis- 
tress of the home and, according to her own judgment, 
controlled all its expenses— the house, the food, the chil- 
dren’s clothing and education; all social and charitable 
responsibilities, and her own dress, the material and style 
of which were expected to conform to her husband’s 
position. 

Where did she get the money? The husband’s income 
was for his family, and his wife was the banker. When he 



STRANGE CUSTOMS 


wanted money Tor himself he asked her for it^ and it , was 
her pride to manage so that she could allow him the 
amount suitable for a man. of his standing. As to what 
the requirements of his position might there was little 
question, for to know this was part of the wife^s education. 
The husband might shrug his shoulders and say, very : 
inconvenient/’ but the entire house and its standing were ' 
his pride, and any “disarrangement that would ' mar the 
whole was his loss. Therefore the needs of the home came ■ 
first. A man married, primarily, as a duty to the gods 
and to his ancestors; secondarily, to obtain a mistress for 
his home who would guide it in such a manner that it and 
his family might be a credit to him. If she managed well, 
he was complimented by his friends. If she failed, he was 
pitied. 

This was true of all classes except lords of large estates 
or financial kings of business. In these cases there was a 
home treasurer, but he was at the call of the mistress, 
and her judgment as to her needs was supreme. The 
treasurer’s only power of protest lay in the right to say, 
with many apologies, ^^The Honourable Mistress is about 
to overdraw her account.” The hint was generally 
sufficient, for a Japanese woman, like everyone in a re- 
sponsible position, desired to do her duty creditably. 

Conventional forms are losing in rigidity year by year, 
but even yet the people are considerably influenced by rules 
which in the past were uniform and recognized by all Any 
marked deviation from these is still considered bad form. 

The standards ’of my own and my adopted country 
differed so widely in some ways, and mj^ love for both 
lands was so sincere, that sometimes I had an odd feeling 
of standing upon a cloud in space, and gazing with measure ■ 
ing eyes upon two separate- wo.rlds. AtTirst I was con-V 
tinually trying to explain, by Japanese standards, -all' ^ 
queer things that came every 'day : before my'':siirprised ■ 



i8o A DAUGHTER OF. THE SAMURAI 

e'yeSj' fo no one seemed to know the origin or significanca' 
of even, the , most familiar customs, nor why they existed 
and were, followed. To me, coming from a land where 
there is an unforgotten reason for every fashion of dress, 
for every motion in etiquette — indeed, for almost every 
trivial act of life — ^this indifference of Americans seemed 
very singular. 

Mother was a wonderful source of information, but 1 
felt a hesitation about asking too many questions, for my 
curiosity was so frequently about odd, trifling, ^ unim- 
portant things, such as why ladies kept on their hats in 
church while men took theirs off; what was the use of the 
china plates which I saw hanging on the walls of some 
beautiful houses; why guests are taken to the privacy of a 
bedroom and asked to put their hats and cloaks on the 
bed — a place that suggested sleep or sickness; why people 
make social calls in the evening — the time of leisure in 
Japan; what originated the merriment and nonsense of 
Hallowe’en and April Fool’s days, and why such a curious 
custom exists as the putting of gifts in stockings — stockings ^ 
the very humblest of all the garments that are worn. 

It seemed strange to me that there should never be any 
hint or allusion to these customs in conversation, in 
books, or in newspapers. In Japan, tradition, folklore, 
and symbolism are before one all the time. The dress of 
the people on the streets; the trade-mark on the swinging 
curtains of the shops; the decorations on chinaware; the 
call of the street vender; the cap of the soldier; the pleated 
skirt of the schoolgirl: each points back to some well- 
known tale of how or why. Even the narrow biue-and- 
white towel of the jinrikisha man and the layer lunch-box 
of the workman bear designs suggesting an ancient poem or 
a bit of folklore, as familiar to every Japanese child as are 
the melodies of Mother Goose to the children of America: 

One afternoon, at a small reception, a lady spoke 



STRANGE CUSTOMS 


i8i 

pleasantly to me c£ the healthfulness to the foot of a shoe 
like my sandal and then referred with disapproval to the 
high heels and pointed toes then in vogue. 

“Why are these shapes worn?” I asked. “What 
started them?” 

“Oh, for no reason,” she replied. “Just a fashion; 
like — ^well, like your folding your dress over left-handed.” 

“ But there is a reason for that,” I said. “It is only on a 
corpse that the kimono is folded over from the right.” 

That interested her, and we had a short talk on the 
peculiarity of Japanese always honouring the left above 
the right in everything, from the Imperial throne to the 
tying of a knot. Then, lightly touching the back of my 
sash, she asked, “Would you mind telling me what this 
bundle is for? Is it to carry the babies on?” 

“Oh, no,” I replied, “it is my sash, and is only an 
ornament. A baby is carried in a hammock-like scarf 
swung from the nurse’s shoulders.” 

“This material of your sash is very beautiful,” she 
said. “May I ask why you arrange it in that flat pad 
instead of spreading it out, so that the design can be seen ? ” 

Since she seemed really interested, I willingly explained 
the various styles of tying a sash for persons differing in 
rank, age, and occupation; and for different occasions. 
Then came the final question, “Why do you have so much 
goods in it?” 

That pleased me, for to a Japanese the material beauty 
of an article is always secondary to its symbolism. I told 
her of the original meaning of the twelve-inch width and 
twelve-foot length, and explained how it represented much 
of the mythology and astrology of ancient Oriental belief. 

“This is very interesting,” she said as she turned to go, 
“especially about the signs of the zodiac and all that; but 
it’s a shame to hide so much of that magnificent brocade 
by folding it in. And don’t you think, yourself, little 



iSz A DAUGHTER OF THE "SAMURAI : : : ■ 

merry smile, /'that it 's posi-' 
tiveiy wicked to buy so many yards of lovely goods just 
: to be wasted and useless ?.^^' 

■ And she walked away with a long train of expensive 
■ velvet trailing behind her on the floor. 

Mother's furniture, which was of beautiful wood and 
some of it carved, at first made me feel as if I were in a 
museum; but when I went into other homes, I found that 
none were simple and plain. Many reminded me of 
godowns, so crowded were they with, not only chairs, 
tables, and pictures, but numbers of little things— small 
statues, empty vases, shells, and framed photographs, as 
well as really rare and costly ornaments; all scattered 
about with utter disregard, according to Japanese stand- 
ards, of order or appropriateness. It was several months 
before I could overcome the impression that the dis- 
arranged profusion of articles was a temporary con- 
venience, and that very soon they would be returned to 
the godown. Most of these objects were beautiful, but 
some of them were the shape of a shoe or of the sole of the 
foot. This seemed to be a favourite design, or else my 
unwilling eyes always spied it out, for in almost every 
house I entered I would see it in a paper-weight, a vase, 
or some other small article. Once I even saw a little 
wooden shoe used as a holder for toothpicks. 

Generations of prejudice made this very objectionable 
to me, for in Japan the feet are the least honoured part of 
the body; and the most beautiful or costly gift would lose 
all value if it had the shape of footwear. 

And Japanese curios! They were everywhere, and in ■ 
the most astonishingly inappropriate surroundings. T/Unch^ ' 
boxes and rice-bowls on parlour tables, cheap roll pictures 
hanging on elegant walls ;shrine' gongs used for dining-room 
table bells; sword-guards ■ for ■ paper-weights; ink-boxes for 
handkerchiefs and letter-boxes for gloves; marriage-cups 



STRANGE CUSTOMS 183 

for pin-trays, and even- little bamboo spittoons I have 
seen used ' to hold flowers. 

In time my stubborn mind learned, to some extent, to 
separate an article from its surroundings; and then I began 
to see its artistic worth with the eyes of an American. Also 
I acquired the habit, whenever I saw absurd things here 
which evidently arose from little knowledge of Japan, 
- of trying to recall a similar absurdity in Japan regarding 
foreign things. And I never failed to find more than one 
to offset each single instance here. One time a recollection 
was forced upon me by an innocent question from a young 
lady who told me, in a tone of disbelief, that she had heard 
in a lecture on Japan that elegantly dressed Japanese 
ladies sometimes wore ordinary, cheap chenille table 
covers around their shoulders in place of scarfs. I could 
only laugh and acknowledge that, a few years before, 
that had been a popular fashion. Imported articles were 
rare and expensive, and since we never used table covers 
ourselves, we had no thought of their being anything but 
beautiful shawls. I had not the courage to tell her that 
I had worn one myself, but I did tell her, however, of 
something that occurred at my home in Nagaoka when I 
was a child. 

On my father^s return from one of his visits to the 
capital he brought Ishi and Kin each a large turkish towel 
with a coloured border and a deep fringe. The maids, 
their hearts swelling with pride, went to temple service 
wearing the towels around their shoulders. I can see 
them yet as they walked proudly out of the gateway, the 
white lengths spread evenly over their best dresses and the 
fringe dangling in its stiff newness above their long Japa- 
nese sleeves. It would be a funny sight to me now, but 
then I was lost in admiration; and it seemed perfectly 
natural that they should ;be, as they were, the envy of all 
''■■Teholders.V-''. 


|:82 \ : : A: DAUGHTER, OF THE SAMURAI 


. gave' me a merry smile, it’s: posi^ 

tiveiy wicked to buy so many yards of lovely goods just 

And she walked away with a long train of expensive 
; . velvet trailing behind her on the floor. 

Mother’s furniture, which was of beautiful wood and 
some of it carved, at first made me feel as if I were in a 
museum; but when I went into other homes, I found that 
none were simple and plain. Many reminded me of 
godowns, so crowded were they with, not only chairs, 
tables, and pictures, but numbers of little things— small 
statues, empty vases, shells, and framed photographs, as 
well as really rare and costly ornaments; all scattered 
about with utter disregard, according to Japanese stand- 
ards, of order or appropriateness. It was several months 
before I could overcome the impression that the dis- 
arranged profusion of articles was a temporary con- 
venience, and that very soon they would be returned to 
the godown. Most of these objects were beautiful, but 
some of them were the shape of a shoe or of the sole of the 
foot. This seemed to be a favourite design, or else..my 
unwilling eyes always spied it out, for in almost every 
house I entered I would see it in a paper-weight, a vase, 
or some other small article. Once I even saw a little 
wooden shoe used as a holder for toothpicks. 

Generations of prejudice made this very objectionable 
to me, f6r in Japan the feet are the least honoured part of 
the body; and the most beautiful or costly gift would lose 
all value if it had the shape of footwear. 

And Japanese . curios! They' were everywhere, and in 
the most astonishingly 'inappropriate surroundings. Lunch 
boxes and rice-bowls on parlour tables, cheap roll pictures 
hanging on elegant walls; shrine gongs used for dining-room 
table bells; sword-guards .for paper-weights; ink-boxes for 
.handkerchiefs and letter-boxes 'for , gloves; marriage-cups 



;v^^' 'STRANGE CUSTOMS' 183 

for pin-trays, and even little bamboo ' spittoons ;! have: 
seen used to hold flowers. 

In time my stubborn mind learned, to some extent, to 
separate an article from its surroundings; and then I began 
to see its artistic worth with the eyes of an American. Also 
I acquired the habit, whenever I saw absurd things here 
which evidently arose from little knowledge of Japan, 
- of trying to recall a similar absurdity in Japan regarding 
foreign things. And I never failed to find more than one 
to olFset each single instance here. One time a recollection 
was forced upon me by an innocent question from a young 
lady who told me, in a tone of disbelief, that she had heard 
in a lecture on Japan that elegantly dressed Japanese 
ladies sometirhes wore ordinary, cheap chenille table 
covers around their shoulders in place of scarfs. I could 
only laugh and acknowledge that, a few years before, 
that had been a popular fashion. Imported articles were 
rare and expensive, and since we never used table covers 
ourselves, we had no thought of their being anything but 
beautiful shawls. I had not the courage to tell her that 
I had worn one myself, but I did tell her, however, of 
something that occurred at my home in Nagaoka when I 
was a child. 

On my father’s return from one of his visits to the 
capital he brought Ishi and Kin each a large turkish towel 
with a coloured border and a deep fringe. The maids, 
their hearts swelling with pride, went to temple service 
wearing the towels around their shoulders. I can see 
them yet as they walked proudly out of the gateway, the 
white lengths spread evenly'over their best dresses and the 
fringe dangling in its stiff-newness above' their long Japa-' 

■■ nese: sleeves. It would be a funny sight to me now, but 
/ then I was lost in admiration; and it seemed perfectly 
;/naturaI;that they should be, as they were, the envy of all 
beholders. 



i 84 a daughter OF THE SAMURAI 

Of all my experiences in trying to see Japanese things 
with American eyes, one particularly inharmonious com- 
bination was a foolishly annoying trial to me for many 
months. The first time I called on Mrs. Hoyt, the hostess 
of an especially beautiful home, my eyes were drawn to 
a lovely carved magonote — “hand of grandchild,” it is 
called in Japan, but in America it has the practical 
name, “scratch-my-back” — ^which was hanging by its silk . 
cord on the cover of an ebony cabinet. Beside it, thrown 
carelessly over the same cord, was a rosary of crystal and 
coral beads. The little ivory finger-rake was exquisitely 
carved, and the rosary was of rare pink coral and flawless 
crystal; but to the eye of an Oriental all beauty was ruined 
by the strange arrangement. It was like putting the 
Bible and a toothbrush side by side on a parlour table. 

I did not criticize the judgment of the hostess. Her 
superior taste in all things artistic was beyond question, 
and in America the magonote was an object of art only. 
From that viewpoint it was properly placed. I realized 
this, and yet, whenever afterward I entered that room, 

I persistently kept my eyes turned away from the ebony 
cabinet. It was only after two years of close friendship 
with the hostess that I had the courage to tell her of my 
shocked first visit to her home. She laughs at me even 
yet, and I laugh too; but there is a warm feeling of satis- 
faction in my heart this moment as I remember that the 
rosary and the magonote no longer hang side by side. 

There was another thing in Mrs. Hoyt’s home which 
was removed at the same time the rosary and the “hand 
of grandchild” parted company. It was a large coloured 
photograph of a scene in Japan— not an ancient print, but 
a modern photograph. It was an attractive pictuie in 
graceful arrangement and delicate colouring, and my 
hostess had placed it in a conspicuous place. Her ignorant 
eyes beheld only its artistic beauty, but my heart turned 



STRANGE CUSTOMS 


185 

sick with shame. That picture would never have been 
allowed in any respectable house in Japan, for it was the 
photograph of a well-known courtesan of Tokyo taken 
at the door of her professional home. “Oh, w^hy do 
Japanese sell those things.?” I shudderingly asked myself; 
but immediately came the puzzling response, “Why do 
Americans want to buy?” 

One day I went into the city with a friend to do some 
shopping. We were on a street car when my attention 
was attracted by a little girl sitting opposite us who was 
eating something. Children in Japan do not eat on the 
street or in a public place, and I did not know then that it 
is not the custom in America as it is with us never to eat 
except at a table. 

My friend and I were busy talking, so for a while I 
did not notice the child, but when I chanced to glance at 
her again, I was surprised to see that she was still eating. 
Two or three times afterward I looked at her, and finally 
I turned to my friend. 

“I wonder what that child is eating,” I said. 

“She is not eating anything,” my friend replied. “She 
is chewing gum.” 

Again I looked at the child. She was sitting, drooped 
and weary, her loose hands lying in her lap, and her feet 
spread around her bundle in a very awkward and difficult 
position. As I watched her tired face, suddenly I re- 
membered something that had happened on the train on 
my trip across the continent. 

“Is she sick?” I asked. 

“No, I think not. Why do you ask ? ” 

“I think I took that medicine on the train,” I replied. 

“Oh, no!” my friend said, laughing. “Chewing gum 
is not medicine. It’s a sort of wax, just to chew.” 

“Why does she do it ?” I asked. 

“Oh, most children of her class chew gum, more or less. 



^ :A: daughter of THE SAMURAI. 

: thing to'do. I dori^t allow my children 

to touch it/^ 

' . I said nothing more, but a partial light began to dawn 
upon my experience on the train. I had been uncomfort- 
ably car-sick, and Mrs. Holmes had given me a small, flat 
block of fragrant medicine which she said would' cure 
• nausea. I put it in my mouth and chewed a long time, 
but I could not swallow it. After a while I got tired, but 
Mrs. Holmes was still eating hers, so, concluding that 
it must be a medicine possessing wonderful merit, as it 
would not dissolve, I wrapped it carefully in a piece of 
white tissue paper and put it in the little mirror case that 
I wore in my sash. 

I never heard what originated this peculiar custom, but 
I think I never found anything odd in America for which 
I could not find an equivalent in Japan. Gum-chewing 
reminded me of hodzukiAAowingy a habit common among 
some Japanese children; and also much practised by tea- 
house girls and women of humble class. The hodzuki is 
made from a little red berry having a smooth, tough peel- 
ing. The core is very soft and with proper care can be 
squeezed out leaving the unbroken peeling in the shape of 
a tiny round lantern. This little ball is elastic and though 
it has no special taste, children love to hold it in the mouth 
and by gently blowing the hollow shell make what they 
call mouth music.'’^ It sounds somewhat like the soft, 
distant croaking of a pond frog. HodzukiAoloWmg is not 
beautiful music, nor is it a pretty custom, but it is neither 
harmful nor unclean. The worst that can be said of it is 
what many a nurse calls to her charge: 

“Take that squeaky thing out of your mouth. It will 
make your lips pouty and ugly.’^ 



CHAPTER XIX 


THINKING 

X THE broad corner where our front and side porches 
^ joined was where my hammock swung. It was 
shaded . by a, big apple tree, and I used to put in a; big 
■cushion and sit, Japanese fashion while I read. I could 
never get used to lying in , it, as Mother sometimes did, 
but I liked to imagine that I was in an open a quiet, 

not a swaying one — and watch for ' glimpses between the 
trees of carriages and country- teams that passed oc- 
casionally on the road beyond the - big evergreens and the 
'.. stone wall. 

From there, too, I could look across a little stretch of 
green, and on, through the break made in the lilac hedge; 
by the drawbridge, to the home of our nearest ■neighbour.- 
We did not have many close neighbours, for our suburb:^^^^ 
was a wide-spreading one with the houses far apart, each, ^ 
set in the midst of its own: stretch of lawn and shrubbery. ' 
Many of these lawns were separated from each other by 
only a narrow gravelled path-or a carriage road. 

I loved these fenceless homes. ,In Japan I had never 
known of a home not incldsed by walls of stone or plaster. 
Even humble village huts had hedges of brushwood or 
^bamboo. One of the odd fancies of my childhood was to 
imagine how wonderful it would be if, without warning, 
all hedges should fall and . the,; hidden ';.gardeBS:''be:sudd^^^ 
revealed to every passerby.. my ' Arnerican;^^^ 
felt that my childhood wish had come true. The fences 

187 


i88 A DAUGHTER OF THE SAMURAI 


were all down and the flowers and grass free for all to 
see and enjoy. Then my mind drifted to the gardens of 
Japan where was shut-in beauty for the few. 

I was thinking all this one pleasant afternoon as I sat 
in the hammock, sewing, while Mother was tying up the 
crimson rambler that covered part of the porch with a 
curtain of green. 

“Mother,” I said suddenly, as a new thought came to . 
me, “did you ever think of a Japanese woman as being 
in prison with the key to her cell in her pocket; and not un- 
locking the door because it would not be a polite thing to 
do?” 

“Why — no!” said Mother, surprised. “What are you 
thinking, Etsu?” 

“That idea came to me the day I went to my first after- 
noon tea. Do you remember ? ” 

“Yes, indeed,” said Mother, smiling. “You looked 
like a drooping blossom as you came up the path with 
Miss Helen. She said that everyone was there and that 
you were the ‘belle of the ball’; and then you sat down on 
the porch step and quietly remarked that people here were 
just like their lawns. I never quite understood what you 
meant.” 

“I shall never forget that day,” I said. “Ail the time 
I was dressing to go, I pictured how the ladies would look, 
sitting in Mrs. Anderson’s parlour in their pretty dresses 
and wavy hair, talking pleasantly the way they do when 
we make calls. But they did not sit at all. It was like 
being in the street, for they all kept on their hats and 
gloves, and stood in groups or walked around the crowded 
rooms, all talking at once. I was so confused by the buzz 
of voices that my head was really dizzy, but it was all 
intensely interesting, and not exactly undignified. People 
asked me queer questions, but everyone was kind and 
everyone was happy.” 



THINKING 189 

^'Was it the noise and the excitement that tired you 
so?’’ asked Mother. 

■^'Oh, noj I liked it. It was a happy noise. I liked 
everything. But on the way home, Miss Flelen asked me 
to tell her about our ladies^ receptions in Japan. I 
could see in my mind just how everyone used to look at an 
anniversary celebration in my home at Nagaoka; Mother 
* sitting so gentle and stately, and all the ladies in their 
ceremonial dresses, having a quietly nice time and express- 
ing every emotion, in a kind of suppressed way, by smiles 
and bows and a few gestures; for at a formal gathering in 
Japan it is rude to laugh aloud or to move too much.” 

‘Tt is beautiful and restful,” said Mother. 

^^But it is not nature!” I cried, sitting upright in my 
excitement. ^T’ve been thinking about it ever since. 
Our conventionality is too extreme. It is narrowing to the 
soul. I hate to be so happy here — and all those patient, 
subdued women sitting hushed in their quiet homes. Our 
lives in Japan — a man’s as well as a woman’s — are like our 
tied-down trees, our shut-in gardens, our ” 

I stopped abruptly; then added slowly, ‘T am growing 
too outspoken and American-like. It does not suit my 
training.” 

You want to pull the fences down too suddenly, dear,” 
said Mother gently. ^^The flowers of Japan have blos- 
somed in a shadowy garden, and a sudden, bright sunlight 
might kill their beauty and develop them into strong, 
coarse weeds. It is only morning there, now. The 
blossoms will grow with the light, and by noon the fences 
will have fallen. Don’t pull them down too suddenly,” 

Mother leaned over the hammock and, for the first time, 
kissed me softly on the brow. 

One time I went with some lady friends to see Ellen 
Terry in “The Merchant of Venice.” It was an afternoon 
performance, and after the play we went to some place 


i88 A DAUGHTER OF THE SAMURAI 


were all down and the flowers and grass free for all to 
see and enjoy. Then my mind drifted to the gardens of 
Japan where was shut-in beauty for the few. 

I was thinking all this one pleasant afternoon as I sat 
in the hammock, sewing, while Mother was tying up the 
crimson rambler that covered part of the porch with a 
curtain of green. 

“Mother,” I said suddenly, as a new thought came to . 
me, “did you ever think of a Japanese woman as being 
in prison with the key to her cell in her pocket; and not un- 
locking the door because it would not be a polite thing to 
do?” 

“Why — no!” said Mother, surprised. “What are you 
thinking, Etsu ? ” 

“That idea came to me the day I went to my first after- 
noon tea. Do you remember ? ” 

“Yes, indeed,” said Mother, smiling. “You looked 
like a drooping blossom as you came up the path with 
Miss Helen. She said that everyone was there and that 
you were the ‘belle of the ball’; and then you sat down on 
the porch step and quietly remarked that people here were 
just like their lawns. I never quite understood what you 
meant.” 

“I shall never forget that day,” I said. “All the time 
I was dressing to go, I pictured how the ladies would look, 
sitting in Mrs. Anderson’s parlour in their pretty dresses 
and wavy hair, talking pleasantly the way they do when 
we make calls. But they did not sit at all. It was like 
being in the street, for they all kept on their hats and 
gloves, and stood in groups or walked around the crowded 
rooms, all talking at once. I was so confused by the buzz 
of voices that my head was really dizzy, but it was all 
intensely interesting, and not exactly undignified. People 
asked me queer questions, but everyone was kind and 
everyone was happy.” 



THINKING 189 

“Was it the noise and the excitement that tired you 
so?” asked Mother. 

“Oh, no, I liked it. It was a happy noise. I liked 
everything. But on the way home. Miss Helen asked me 
to tell her about our ladies’ receptions in Japan. I 
could see in my mind just how everyone used to look at an 
anniversary celebration in my home at Nagaoka; Mother 
. sitting so gentle and stately, and all the ladies in their 
ceremonial dresses, having a quietly nice time and express- 
ing every emotion, in a kind of suppressed way, by smiles 
and bows and a few gestures; for at a formal gathering in 
Japan it is rude to laugh aloud or to move too much.” 

“It is beautiful and restful,” said Mother. 

“But it is not nature!” I cried, sitting upright in my 
excitement. “I’ve been thinking about it ever since. 
Our conventionality is too extreme. It is narrowing to the 
soul. I hate to be so happy here — and all those patient, 
subdued women sitting hushed in their quiet homes. Our 
lives in Japan — a man’s as well as a woman’s — are like our 
tied-down trees, our shut-in gardens, our ” 

I stopped abruptly; then added slowly, “I am growing 
too outspoken and American-like. It does not suit my 
training.” 

“You want to pull the fences down too suddenly, dear,” 
said Mother gently. “The flowers of Japan have blos- 
somed in a shadowy garden, and a sudden, bright sunlight 
might kill their beauty and develop them into strong, 
coarse weeds. It is only morning there, now. The 
blossoms will grow with the light, and by noon the fences 
will have fallen. Don’t pull them down too suddenly.” 

Mother leaned over the hammock and, for the first time, 
kissed me softly on the brow. 

One time I went with some lady friends to see Ellen 
Terry in “The Merchant of Venice.” It was an afternoon 
performance, and after the play we went to some place 


190 A DAUGHTER OF THE SAMURAI ^ ^ 

and had tea. The ladies were all enthusiastic in their 
praise of the great actress, but I could say nothing, for that 
afternoon was one of the great disappointments of my 
life. I had been quite excited over seeing for the first 
time a Western actress of world-wide fame, and had formed 
a picture in my mind of a modest young doctor of laws, 
who would walk across the stage with slow-moving cere- 
mony and with grave dignity deliver the wonderful • 
monologue. Of course, I unconsciously pictured the 
Japanese ideal. 

Instead, a tall figure in scarlet gown and cap, which re- 
minded me of the dress of a Japanese clown, swept on to 
the stage with the freedom and naturalness that belong 
only to common-class people in Japan. Portia talked too 
loud and fast for a lady of elegance and culture, even in 
disguise. And the gestures — oh, most of all, the vigorous, 
manlike gestures ! I had no impression but one of shocked 
surprise. 

The beautiful moonlight scene where Jessica meets her 
lover, and also the last act, where the two husbands 
recognize their wives, were full of too many kisses and 
seemed to be most indelicate. I wished I was not there 
to see. 

In the midst of the conversation, one of the ladies, who 
had watched me rather curiously during the last scene, 
turned to me. 

“Do you have love scenes on the Japanese stage?” she 
asked. 

“Oh, yes,” I answered. “Our stage shows life as it is, 
and Japanese are just like other people.” 

“But your face got crimson, little lady, and you looked 
as if you had never seen a lover before,” she said s mil in g ly. 

I explained as well as I could that for generations we 
have been taught that strong emotional expression is not 
consistent with elegance and dignity. That does not 



THINKING 


191 


mean that we try to repress our feelings; only that public 
expression of them is bad form. Therefore on our stage 
the love scenes are generally so demure and quiet that an 
American audience would not be thrilled at all. But the 
dignified bearing of our actors has a strong effect on 
Japanese people, for they understand the feeling that is not 
shown.” 

. “What do lovers do when they are — well — very enthusi- 
astic?” asked a young lady. 

“They gently turn their backs to each other,” I replied. 

“Turn their backs to each other! My stars!” was the 
very peculiar exclamation of the young lady. 

In a moment she turned to me again. 

“Is it really true,” she asked, “that in Japan there is no 
kissing — even between husband and wife?” 

“There is bowing, you know,” I replied. “That is our 
mode of heart expression.” 

“But you don’t mean that your mother never kissed 
you ! ” exclaimed the young lady. “Whatdidshedo when 
you came to America?” 

“Only bowed,” I replied, “and then she said very 
gently, ‘A safe journey for you, my daughter.’ ” 

I had not been here long enough then to understand the 
odd expression that came over the faces of the ladies, nor 
the moment’s silence that followed before the conver- 
sation drifted into other channels. 

Bowing is not only bending the body; it has a spiritual 
side also, One does not bow exactly the same to father, 
younger sister, friend, servant, and child. My mother’s 
long, dignified bow and gentle-voiced farewell held no lack 
of deep love. I felt keenly each heart-throb, and every 
other person present also recognized the depth of hidden 
emotion. 

Japanese people are not demonstrative. Until late 
years the repression of strong emotion was carefully drilled 


^ OF THE ^ 

into the mind and life of every Japanese child of the better 
class. There is much more freedom now than formerly, 
but the influence of past training is seen everywhere— 
in art, in literature, and in the customs of daily life. With 
all the cheerful friendliness of everyday intercourse there 
is a certain stiffness of etiquette which holds in check all 
exuberance of expression. It dictates the ceremonies of 
birth and the ceremonies of death, and guides everything . 
between— working, playing, eating, sleeping, walking, 
running, laughing, crying. Every motion is chained— 
and by one’s own wish — ^with the shackles of politeness. 

A merry girl will laugh softly behind her sleeve. A hurt 
child chokes back his tears and sobs out, “I am not cry- 
ing!” A stricken mother will smile as she tells you that 
her child is dying. A distressed servant will giggle as she 
confesses having broken your treasured piece of china. 
This is most mystifying to a foreigner, but it means only 
an effort to keep in the background. A display of one’s 
own feelings would be rudeness. 

When American people judge the degree of affection 
between Japanese husband and wife by their conduct to 
each other, they make a great mistake. It would be as 
bad form for a man to express approval of his wife or 
children as it would be for him to praise any other part of 
himself; and every wife takes pride in conducting herself 
according to the rigid rules of etiquette, which recognize 
dignity and humility as the virtues that reflect greatest 
glory on the home of which she is mistress. 

One other thing may explain some seeming peculiarities. 
The Japanese language has no pronouns, their place being 
taken by adjectives. A humble or derogatory adjective 
means “my” and a complimentary one means “your.” 

A husband will introduce his wife with some such words as 
these: “Pray bestow honourable glance upon foolish wife.” 

By this he simply means, “I want you to meet my wife.” 



THINKING 


193 

A father will speak of his children as “ignorant son” or 
“untrained daughter” when his heart is overflowing with 
pride and tenderness. 

I shall never forget my first experience in seeing kissing 
between man and woman. It was on my trip across the 
continent when I came from Japan. A seat near me was 
occupied by a young lady, very prettily dressed and with 
, gentle, almost timid, manners. She was a young married 
woman returning from her first visit to her parents. I was 
much attracted by her free, yet modest, actions and 
planned how I would try to imitate her. One morning I 
noticed that she was dressed with unusual care, and it was 
evident that she was nearing the end of her journey. 
Finally the train began to slow down and she watched out 
of the window with eager interest. The train had barely 
come to a stand when in rushed a young man, who threw 
his arms around that modest, sweet girl and kissed her 
several times. And she did not mind it, but blushed and 
laughed, and they went off together . I cannot express my 
feelings, but I could not help recalling what my mother 
said to me just before I started for America: “I have 
heard, my daughter, that it is the custom for foreign 
people to lick each other as dogs do.” 

There was no criticism in my mother’s heart — nothing 
but wonder. I repeat her words only as an illustration 
of how an unfamiliar custom may appear to the eyes of a 
stranger. Years of residence in this country have taught 
me that the American mode of heart expression has its 
spiritual'side, just as bowing has. I now understand that 
a kiss expresses kindness or gratitude, friendship or love; 
each of which is a sacred whisper from heart to heart. 

Matsuo was very fond of Mother, and often, when he had 
received a new assignment of goods from Japan, he would 
select something especially pretty or appropriate and 
bring to her. Once he gave her a small lacquer box which 



THINKING 


193 

A father will speak of his children as “ignorant son” or 
“untrained daughter” when his heart is overflowing with 
pride and tenderness. 

I shall never forget my first experience in seeing kissing 
between man and woman. It was on my trip across the 
continent when I came from Japan. A seat near me was 
occupied by a young lady, very prettily dressed and with 
. gentle, almost timid, manners. She was a young married 
woman returning from her first visit to her parents. I was 
much attracted by her free, yet modest, actions and 
planned how I would try to imitate her. One morning I 
noticed that she was dressed with unusual care, and it was 
evident that she was nearing the end of her journey. 
Finally the train began to slow down and she watched out 
of the window with eager interest. The train had barely 
come to a stand when in rushed a young man, who threw 
his arms around that modest, sweet girl and kissed her 
several times. And she did not mind it, but blushed and 
laughed, and they went off together. I cannot express my 
feelings, but I could not help recalling what my mother 
said to me just before I started for America: “I have 
heard, my daughter, that it is the custom for foreign 
people to lick each other as dogs do.” 

There was no criticism in my mother’s heart — nothing 
but wonder. I repeat her words only as an illustration 
of how an unfamiliar custom may appear to the eyes of a 
stranger. Years of residence in this country have taught 
me that the American mode of heart expression has its 
spiritual'side, just as bowing has. I now understand that 
a kiss expresses kindness or gratitude, friendship or love; 
each of which is a sacred whisper from heart to heart. 

Matsuo was very fond of Mother, and often, when he had 
received a new assignment of goods from Japan, he would 
select something especially pretty or appropriate and 
bring to her. Once he gave her a small lacquer box which 



194 A DAUGHTER OF THE SAMURAI 

looked something iike an old-fashioned medicine case hung 
from the sash by people of ancient time. The outside 
was marked with lines corresponding to the partitions in 
a medicine case, but when I opened it, I saw that instead 
of being a succession of layers, it was an open box divided 
into two upright partitions to hold playing cards. The 
lacquer was poor and the work roughly done, but it was an 
ingenious idea to make a box to hold a means of pleasure in - 
imitation of a case to hold a cure for pain. 

“What original people Americans are!” I said. “But 
I didn’t know that lacquer was made here.” 

Matsuo turned the little box over, and, on the bottom, 

I saw a label, “Made in Japan.” 

A few days after, I went dowm to Matsuo’s store and he 
showed me whole shelves of articles called Japanese, the 
sight of which would have filled any inhabitant of Japan 
with a puzzled wonder as to what the strange European 
articles could be. They were all marked, “Made in 
Japan.” Matsuo said that they had been designed by 
Americans, in shapes suitable for use in this country, then 
made to order in Japanese factories and shipped direct to 
America, without having been seen in Japan outside the 
factory. That troubled me, but Matsuo shrugged his 
shoulders. 

“As long as Americans want them, design them, order 
them, and are satisfied, there -will be merchants to supply,” 
he said. 

“But they are not Japanese things.” 

“No,” he replied. ‘‘But genuine things do not sell. 
People think they are too frail and not gay enough.” 
Then he added slowly, “The only remedy is in education; 
and that will have to begin here.” 

That night I lay awake a long time, thinking. Of 
course, artistic, appreciative persons are few in com- 
parison to the masses who like heavy vases of green and 



THINKING 


195 

goHj boxes of cheap lacquer, and gay fanS' with' /pictures 
of a laughing girl with flower hairpins. But if Japan 
iowers her ' artistic standards/' I sighed, ' .^Vhat can she 
/'hope for from the world? ■ All that she has, or is, comes 
from her ait ideals and her'pride. ' Ambition, workmanship, 
courtesy- — all are folded within those two words.’’ 

I once knew a workman — one who was paid by the job, 
V not the hour — to voluntarily undo half a day’s work, at the 
cost of much heavy lifting, just to alter, by a few inches, 
the position of a stepping-stone in a garden. After it was 
placed to his satisfaction, he wiped the perspiration from 
his face, then took out his tiny pipe and squatted down, 
near by, to waste still more unpaid-for-time in gazing at 
the re-set stone, with pleasure and satisfaction in every 
line of his kindly old face. 

As I thought of the old man, I wondered if it was worth 
while to exchange the delight of heart-pride in one’s work 
{ot— anything. My mind mounted from the gardener 
to workman, teacher, statesman. It is the same with all. 
To degrade one’s pride — to loose one’s hold on the best, 
after having had it — is death to the soul growth of man or 
nation. 



CHAPTER XX 


NEIGHBOURS 

W HEN I came to America I expected to learn many 
things, but I had no thought that I was going to 
learn anything about Japan. Yet our neighbours, by 
their questions and remarks, were teaching me every day 
new ways of looking at my own country. 

My closest friend was the daughter of a retired states- 
man, the General, we called him, who lived just across the 
s^teep little ravine which divided our grounds from his. 
Our side was bordered by a hedge of purple lilacs, broken, 
opposite the path to the well, by a rustic drawbridge. 
One autumn afternoon I was sitting on the shady step of 
the bridge with a many-stamped package in my lap, 
watching for the postman. Just about that hour his funny 
little wagon, looking, with its open side-doors, like a high, 
stiff kagOf would be passing on its return trip down the hill, 
and I was anxious to hurry off my package of white cotton 
brocade and ribbons of various patterns and colours — the 
most prized gifts I could send to Japan. 

Suddenly I heard a gay voice behind me reciting in a 
high sing-song: 

"^‘Open your mouth and shut your eyes 
And ril give you something to make you wise.” 

I looked up at a charming picture. My bright-eyed 
friend, in a white dress and big lacy hat, was standing on 
the bridge, holding in her cupped hands three or four 

196 



NEIGHBOURS 


m 

grape leaves pinned together with thorns. On this rustic 
plate were piled some bunches of luscious purple grapes. 

“Oh, how pretty!” I exclaimed. “That is just the way 
Japanese serve fruit.” 

“And this is the way they carry flowers,” she said, 
putting down the grapes on the step and releasing a big 
bunch of long-stemmed tiger lilies from under her arm. 

. “Why do Japanese always carry flowers upside-down?” 

I laughed and said, “It looked very odd to me, when I 
first came, to see everybody carrying flowers with the tops 
up. Why do you?” 

“Why — ^why — they look prettier so; and that’s the way 
they grow.” 

That was true, and yet I had never before thought of 
any one’s caring for the appearance of flowers that were 
being carried. We Japanese have a way of considering a 
thing invisible until it is settled in its proper place. 

“Japanese seldom carry flowers,” I said, “except to the 
temple or to graves. We get flowers for the house from 
flower-venders who go from door to door with baskets 
swung from shoulder poles, but we do not send flowers as 
gifts; and we never wear them.” 

“Why?” asked Miss Helen. 

“Because they wither and fade. And so, to send 
flowers to a sick friend would be the worst omen in the 
world.” 

“Oh, what a lot of pleasure your poor invalids in 
hospitals are losing!” said Miss Helen. “And Japan is the 
land of flowers!” 

Surprised and thoughtful, I sat silent; but in a moment 
was aroused by a question. “What were you thinking of 
when I came — sitting here so quietly with that big bundle 
on your lap? You looked like a lovely, dainty, pictur- 
esque little peddler.” 

“My thoughts were very unlike those of a peddler,” 


198 A DAUGHTER OF THE SAMURAI 

I replied. “As I sat here watching the dangling end of the 
bridge chain I was thinking of a Japanese loyer of long ago 
who crossed a drawbridge ninety-nine times to win his 
ladylove, and the one hundredth time, in a blinding snow- 
storm, he failed to see that it was lifted, and so fell to his 
death in the moat below.” 

“How tragic!” exclaimed Miss Helen. “What did the 
poor lady do?” 

“It was her fault,” I said. “She was vain and am- 
bitious, and when she saw a chance to win the love of a 
high official at court, she changed her mind about he'r lover 
and commanded her attendants not to lower the bridge the 
day he expected to come triumphant.” 

“You don’t mean that the cold-blooded creature 
actually planned his death ? ” 

“It was the storm that caused his death,” I said. “She 
was fickle, but not wicked. She thought that when he 
found the bridge lifted he would know her answer and go 
away.” 

“Well, sometimes our girls over here are fickle enough, 
dear knows,” said Miss Helen, “but no American woman 
would ever do a thing like that. She was actually a 
murderess.” 

I was shocked at such a practical way of looking at my 
romantic tale, and hastened to add that remorseful Lady 
Komachi became a nun and spent her life in making 
pilgrimages to various temples to pray for the dead. At 
last she partially lost her mind, and, as a wandering 
beggar, lived and died among the humble villagers on the 
slopes of Mount Fuji. “Her fate is held up by priests,” I 
concluded, “as a warning to all fickle-minded maidens.” 

“Well,” said Miss Helen, drawing a deep breath, “I 
think she paid pretty dearly for her foolishness, don’t 
you?” . 

“Why — ^well, perhaps,” I replied, rather surprised at the 



NEIGHBOURS 


m'' 

question, but' we are taught that if a' woman , so loses her 
gentle modesty that she can treat with scom and ' dis-: 
respect the plea of a loyal lover, she is no longer a worthy 
woman/* 

'"Suppose a man jilts a maid, what then?** quickly asked 
Miss Helen. " Is he no longer considered a worthy man ? ” 

I did not know how" to reply. Instinctively I upheld to 
-myself the teachings of my childhood that man is the 
protector and guide and woman the helper — ^the self- 
respecting, but nevertheless, uncritical, dutiful helper. 
Often afterward Miss Helen and I had heart-to-heart talks 
in which her questions and remarks surprised and some- 
times disturbed me. Many of our customs I had taken 
for granted, accepting the ways of our ancestors without 
any thought except that thus they had been and still were. 
When I began to question myself about things which had 
always seemed simple and right because they were in 
accordance with laws made by our wise rulers, sometimes 
I was puzzled and sometimes I was frightened. 

"I am afraid that I am growing very bold and man- 
like,** I would think to myself, "but God gave me a brain 
to use, else why do I have it?** AO my childhood I had 
hidden my deepest feelings. Now again it was the same. 
My American mother would have understood, but I did 
not know; and so, repressing all outward signs, I puzzled 
my way alone, in search of higher ideals — ^not for myself, 
but for Japan. 

Miss Helen*s father was ninety years old when I knew 
him. He was a wonderful man, tall, with broad shoulders 
just a trifle stooped and with thick iron-gray hair and 
bushy eyebrows. A strong face he had, but gentle and 
humorous when he talked. I looked upon him as an 
encyclopedia of American history. I had always loved 
the study of history, in childhood and at school, but I had 
learned little of the details of America*s part in the world; 



200 A DAUGHTER OF THE SAMURAI 

and would sit with the General and his invalid wife listen- 
ing by the hour while he told stories of early American life. 
Knowing that incidents of personal history especially 
appealed to me, he once told me that his own large estate 
was bought by his father from an Indian chief in exchange 
for one chair, a gun, and a pouch of tobacco; and that 
Mother’s large home was once an Indian village of bark 
tents and was purchased for half-a-dozen split-seated- 
kitchen chairs. These incidents seemed to me almost 
pre-historic; for I had never known any one whose home 
did not date back into a far past. 

When America was a still youthful nation the General 
had represented his country as a diplomat in Europe, 
and, with his beautiful young wife, had taken part in the 
foreign social life in Paris and later in Washington. My 
first glimpse of American life abroad, I received through 
the word pictures of this gracious lady, and through her 
experiences I began to understand, with sympathy, some- 
thing of the problem in Japan of Americans trying to un- 
derstand the Japanese, which heretofore I had looked upon 
only as the problem of Japanese trying to understand 
Americans. 

From childhood until I met the General the word 
“ancient” had commanded my reverence. I had been 
conscious that the Inagaki family tree was rooted in a 
history centuries old, and that our plots in the cemetery 
were the oldest in Nagaoka. It had seemed an un- 
questioned necessity that we should follow the same 
customs that our ancestors had observed for hundreds of 
years, and it was my pride that they were the customs of 
a dynasty which was among the very oldest in the world. 

After I became acquainted with the General and heard 
him talk of the wonderful development of a nation much 
younger than my own family tree, the word “ancient” 
lost some of its value. Even the General’s own lifetime — 



NEIGHBOURS 


:20l. 


the years of only one man^s life — represented such a 
marvellous advance in national growth that sometimes 
I looked upon him almost with awe, wondering how much 
real value should be attached to antiquit}^ Perhaps,’^ 
I sometimes said to myself, “it would be better not to 
look back with such pride to a glorious past; but instead, to 
look forward to a glorious future. One means quiet satis- 
" faction; the other, ambitious work.” 

One evening, after Matsuo and I had been over to call 
on the General, Miss Helen walked back with us across the 
drawbridge. Matsuo went on to join Mother on the 
porch, and Miss Helen and I sat down on the step of the 
bridge, as we often did, to talk. 

“When Father told that story about Molly Pitcher,” 
said Miss Helen, “I wondered if you were thinking about 
Japanese women.” 

“Why?” I asked.^ 

“Well,” she replied hesitatingly, “several times Fve 
heard you say that American women are like Japanese. I 
don^t see that Molly Pitcher is much of a Japanese speci- 
men.” 

“Oh, you don^t know Japanese history,” I exclaimed. 
“We have many women heroes in Japan.” 

“Yes, of course,” said Miss Helen quickly. “In every 
country there are heroic women who rise to noble sacrifice 
on occasion. But they are exceptions. Books and 
travellers all speak of Japanese women as being quiet, 
soft-spoken, gentle, and meek. That picture doesn't 
apply to the American type of women.” 

“The training is different, ” I said, “but I think that at 
heart they are much the same.” 

“Well,” said Miss Helen, “when it becomes the fashion 
for us to wear our hearts on our sleeves, perhaps we will 
appear gentle and meek. But,” she added as she rose to 
go, “I don't believe that Japanese men think as you do. 



OF THE SAMURAI 

To-iiiglitj wlieB I spoke of the book on Japan that I have 
: been readings and said that I believed the author was right 
when he declared that ‘for modesty and gentle worth, 
Japanese women lead the world/ your husband smiled and 
said, ‘Thank you/ as if he thought so too/"' 

' “Miss Helen/^ I said earnestly, “although our women; 
are pictured as gentle and meek, and although Japanese 
men will not contradict it, nevertheless it is true that, be-* 
neath all the gentle meekness, Japanese women are like— 
like— volcanoes/’ 

Miss Helen laughed. 

“You are the only Japanese woman that I ever saw — 
except at the Exposition,” she said, “and I cannot imagine 
your being like a volcano. However, FIl give in to your 
superior knowledge. You have had Molly Pitchers 
among your women, and flirts — that Lady What’s-het'^ 
name whom you told me about the other day: she was a 
flirt, with a vengeance! — and now you say that you have 
volcanoes. Your demure-appearing countrywomen seem 
to have surprising possibilities. The next time I come 
over Fm going to challenge you to give me a specimen of 
a Japanese genuine woman s-rights woman,” 

“That is easy,” I said, laughing in my turn. “A 
genuine woman’s-rights woman is not one who wants her 
rights, but one who has them. And if that means the right 
to do men’s work, I can easily give you a specimen. We 
have a whole island of women who do men’s work from 
planting rice to making laws.” 

“What do the men do?” 

“Cook, keep house, take care of the children, and do the 
family washing.” 

“You don’t mean it!” exclaimed Miss Helen, and she 
sat down again. 

But I did mean it, and I told her of Hachijo, a little 
island about a hundred miles off the coast of Japan, where 



NEIGHBOURS 


203 


the women, tall, handsome, and straight, with their 
splendid hair coiled in an odd knot on top of the head, 
and wearing long, loose gowns bound by a narrow sash 
tied in front, work in the ricefields, make oil from ca- 
mellia seeds, spin and weave a peculiar yellow silk which 
they carry in bundles on their heads over the mountains, 
at the same time driving tiny oxen, not much larger than 
.dogs, also laden with rolls of silk to be sent to the main- 
land to be sold. And in addition to all this they make some 
of the best laws we have and see that they are properly 
carried ‘out. In the meantime, the older men of the 
community, with babies strapped to their backs, go on 
errands or stand on the street gossiping and swaying to 
a sing-song lullaby; and the younger ones wash sweet 
potatoes, cut vegetables, and cook dinner; or, in big aprons 
and with sleeves looped back, splash, rub, and wring out 
clothes at the edge of a stream. 

The beginning of this unusual state of things dates back 
several centuries, to a time when the husbands and sons 
were forced to go to another island about forty miles away, 
for fishing, very little of which could be done near Hachijo. 
When silk proved more profitable than fish, the men re- 
turned to the island, but the Government was in capable 
hands which have never given up their hold. 

I told all this to Miss Helen, and closed by saying, “A 
subject for your meditation is the fact that with these 
women rulers, both men and women are healthy and 
happy; and the social life there is more strictly moral than 
it is in any other community of equal intelligence in 
Japan.” 

“You had better join the Equal Suffrage party,” said 
Miss Helen, “and go on the lecture platform with that 
story. It has a list toward moral uplift and might win 
voters for the cause. Well,” and again she rose to go, 
“your women are such unexpected creatures that I am 



204 A DAUGHTER OF THE SAMURAI 

more than ever convinced that American women are not 
like Japanese. We talk so much and are so noisily inter- 
ested in public affairs that we are expected to do almost 
anything. Whatever happens, we cannot surprise the 
world. But for one of your timid, shrinking kind suddenly 
to burst out into a bold, strong act, like lifting draw- 
bridges and that sort of thing, completely upsets our pre- 
conceived ideas. And then to hear of its being quietly but- 
effectively done en masses like those island women, is 
rather — disconcerting.” 

She ran over the bridge, calling back, “Anyway, al- 
though you are the sweetest little lady that ever walked 
on sandals, you haven’t convinced me. American women 
are MOi like Japanese women — more’s the pity ! ” 

With this absurd compliment from my extravagantly 
partial friend ringing in my ears, I started to walk toward 
the porch, when suddenly a voice called from the dusky 
shadows across’ the bridge, “Oh, I didn’t think of Mrs. 
Newton! I’ll give up. She is like a Japanese woman. 
Good-night.” 

I smiled as I walked on toward the porch, for I was 
thinking of something Mother had told me that very 
morning about Mrs, Newton. She was our nearest 
neighbour on the opposite side of our place from Miss 
Helen’s home, and I knew her very well. She was a 
gentle woman, soft-voiced and shy, who loved birds and 
had little box-houses for them in her trees. I understood 
why Miss Helen should say that she was like a Japanese 
woman, but I had never thought that she was. Her ideas 
were so very sensible and practical; and she allowed her 
husband to be too attentive to her. He carried her cloak 
and umbrella for her; and once, in the carriage, I saw 
him lean over and fasten her slipper strap. 

What Mother had told me was that, a few days before, 
Mrs, Newton was sitting by the window sewing, when she 



NEIGHBOURS 


205 

heard a frightened chirping and saw a large snake reaching 
up the trunk of a tree to one of her bird-boxes on a low 
branch. She dropped her sewing, and running to a 
drawer where her husband kept a gun, she shot through 
the open window, right into the snake’s head, and her 
little bird family was saved. 

“How could she do it?” I said to Mother. “I never 
would have believed that frail, delicate Airs. Newton 
would dare even touch a gun. She is afraid of every dog on 
the street, and she starts and flushes if you speak to her 
unexpectedly. And then, anyway, how could she ever 
Mtxtr 

Mother smiled. 

“Mrs. Newton can do many things that you don’t know 
about,” she said. “When she was first married she lived 
for several years on a lonely ranch out West. One stormy 
night, when her husband was gone, she strapped that same 
gun around her waist and walked six miles through dark- 
ness and danger to bring help to an injured workman.” 

I recalled Mrs. Newton’s soft voice and gentle, almost 
timid manner. “After all,” I said to myself, “she is 
like a Japanese woman!” 


CHAPTER XXI 


NEW EXPERIENCES 

A S THE weeks and the months had drifted by, un-' 
consciously in my mind the present had been linking 
itself more and more closely with the past; for I had been 
learning more clearly each day that America was very 
like Japan. Thus, as time passed, the new surroundings 
melted into old memories and I began to feel that my 
life had been almost an unbroken continuation from child- 
hood until now. 

Beneath the chimes of the church bells calling: “Do 
not — forget — to thank — for gifts — you ev— ery day — 
enjoy,” I could hear the mellow boom of the temple gong: 
“Protection for all — ^is olFered here — safety is within.” 

The children who, with their burden of books, filled 
the streets with laughter and shouts at 8:30 a. m. made the 
same picture to me as our crowds of boys in uniform and 
girls in pleated skirts and shining black hair, who, at 
7:30 A. M., clattered along on wooden clogs, carrying their 
books neatly wrapped in squares of patterned challie. 

Valentine’s Day with its lacy scenes of bowing knights 
and burning hearts, all twined about with ropes of rose- 
buds, and with sweet thoughts expressed in, glowing, 
endearing words, was our Weaving Festival, when swaying 
bamboos were decorated with festoons of gay sashes and 
scarfs, and hung with glittering poem prayers for sunshine, 
that the herdsman and his weaver wife might meet that 
day on the misty banks of the Heavenly River which 
Americans call the Milky Way. 

206 


NEW EXPERIENCES 




Decoration Day, with its soldiers of two wars, with its 
patriotic speeches and its graves with tiny iags' and, 
scattered ' blossoms, was our Shokonsha memorial to 
our soldier dead, when, all day long, hundreds march' 
through the great stone arch to bow with softly clapping 
'hands; then march away to make room for hundreds 
more. 

• ' The Fourth of July with its fluttering, flags, with snap- 
ping crackers, with beating drums* and its' whirling, shoot- 
ing rockets in the sky, was our holiday on which the flag of ■' 
Japan waved beneath crossed cherry branches in honour 
of the coming to the throne, twenty-five centuries ago, of 
our first Emperor — a large bearded man in loose garments, 
tied at wrist and ankle with twisted vines, and wearing a 
long, swinging necklace of sickle-shaped gems which is 
to-day one of the three treasures of the throne. 

Hallowe^'en, with its grotesque lanterns, its witches and 
many jokes, was the Harvest Festival of Japan, when 
pumpkins were skilfully scraped into lovely pictures of 
shady gardens with lanterns and flowers; when ghost 
games were played and pumpkins piled at the gate of 
round-faced maidens; and when orchards of the stingy 
man were raided and their trophies laid on graves for the 
poor to find. 

Thanksgiving, the home-coming day, with its turkey 
and pie, and jolly good cheer, was our anniversary when 
married sons and daughters with their children gathered 
for a feast of red rice and whole fish, gossiping happily 
while they ate, with the shrine doors open wide and the 
spirits of kindly ancestors watching over all. 

Christmas, with its gay. streets and merry, hurrying, 
bundle-laden crowds, with its '- sparkling tree and : many,:: 
gifts, with its holy memories ■::of a shining star 'and ■ a 
Mother with her Babe,, was something like our seven days:,, ;■ 
of New Year rejoicing, Tut ::'with a Tifferenee— the' differ- 


208 A DAUGHTER OF THE SAMURAI 

ence between the soft organ tones of an old melody and 
the careless, lilting song of a happy child. 

At New Year’s time, above every doorway in our 
crowded streets was stretched a rope of ragged rice-straw 
with pine trees growing on either side, and the air re- 
sounded with children’s laughter and the tinkle of tiny 
hidden bells in running shoes; with the gay tap-tap of flying 
shuttlecocks and the cheerful greetings of bowing friends. • 
In every home were thick rounded cakes of mochi; every 
babe had another birthday, every maiden had a new sash, 
and poetry cards were played by boys and girls together. 
Oh, it was gay in Japan at New Year’s time! There was 
no thought of solemnity anywhere, for the chrysalis of the 
past was broken, the butterfly had burst forth, and the 
world had begun again. 

My first Christmas Day in America was a disappoint- 
ment. We were all invited by a lady friend to attend 
Christmas services and afterward to go home with her to 
dinner and to see her tree. She had children, and I had 
pictured the scene as being gay, pretty, and pleasant, but 
with an undercurrent of dignity and reverence. I had 
idealized too much the wide influence of the symbolism of 
the day; and everything seemed such a strange combi- 
nation of the spiritual and the material that I was lost. 
The star on the tree and the thought of unselfish giving 
were beautiful, but little was said of either — except in 
church; and just beneath the star were festoons of pop- 
corn and cranberries— things we eat. Indeed, except 
for the gaiety of giving and receiving gifts, most things 
especially belonging to the day seemed to be only the 
serving of certain kinds of food and the very inartistic 
and peculiar custom of hanging in a prominent place the 
garments of the lowest part of the body for the purpose 
of holding gifts of toys and jewellery or even candy and 



NEW EXPERIENCES 


209 

fruit. That was a custom difficult for a Japanese to 
understand. , 

That evening, Mother and I went over to call on Miss 
Helen. And there, in her big quiet parlour, spreading 
over a large snowy cloth on the floor, stood her tree— large 
and pine-scented, sparkling with lights and coloured, 
swinging ornaments. It was wonderful ! The tree, though 
. so big and beautiful, reminded me, as an American sky- 
scraper may remind one of a tiny temple pagoda, of the 
fairy-like branch of our Cocoon Festival from which swing 
and float, swaying with the lightest breath, myriads of 
fairy-like, sugar-blown replicas of every delicate symbol 
of the day. Miss Helen’s father and mother were there, 
and we talked of the holidays of America and of Japan. 
Then a little niece and a neighbour’s child sang Christmas 
carols, and my heart was full of joy, for I felt that my 
ideal Christmas had reallv come. 

The morning after Christmas we had our first snow — 
a flying mist of dry, feathery flakes that was no more 
like the heavy fall of Echigo’s damp, solid clots than 
fluffy silk-floss is like weighty cotton-batting. All day 
long it fell, growing thicker toward nightfall, and when 
we wakened the next morning the world was white. 

Just at the curve where our driveway turned into the 
broad public road stood the coachman’s cottage. He 
had three children and they asked Mother if they might 
make a snow man on our back lawn. Mother gave her 
consent, and then the most interesting things happened! 
The children rolled a big ball, then piled on it another, 
and on the top of that, a small one. Then with much 
pushing and patting of red-mittened hands, they formed 
rude features and, with shiny bits of hard coal, gave the 
image a pair of bright eyes and a row of buttons down the 
front. An old hat of their father’s and a pipe from some- 


210 A DAUGHTER OF THE SAMURAI 


where completed their work, and there stood, a clumsy, 
shapeless image that reminded me of Daruma Sama— 
the lndian saint whose devotion cost him his feet. 

I had never expected to see a Buddhist saint in America, 
but I greeted the likeness with merriment and' entertained ■ 
the children by telling them the story of the cheerful 
■ riee^poender who threw away his pestle to become, the 
founder of a new religion; and who asked that his image , 
be not honoured with reverential bows, but be made into 
amusing toys that children's hands would use and chil- 
dren's hearts enjoy. Later on I saw a Daruma Sama at 
other places than on our snowy lawn. To my surprise, the 
little squatting figure muffled in a scarlet cloak seemed 
to be a familiar object, but no one knew^ his story or his 
name. All my life I had been accustomed to seeing 
Daruma Sama in the shape of every toy that can be made 
for careless baby fingers; but I was really shocked one 
evening at a card party to find the little red, rolling figure 
used as a booby prize. 

“It is such an odd selection for a card-game prize," 

I said to Matsuo. “Why should a Daruma Sama be 
chosen?" . 

“Not odd at all," replied Matsuo. “Very appropriate. 

A man so well balanced that, however he may fall, the 
next moment he is again right side up, makes an excellent 
booby prize. It means, /Down only for a moment.' 
Don't you see?" 

In Japan we always treat a Daruma Sama rather 
disrespectfully, but it is a kind of affectionate disrespect; 
and my sensations, as I walked home with Matsuo fromy , 
the party, were rather mixed, . Finally, just as I reached v 
the iron gate, I drew in a long breath, and with a ridiculous 
feeling of loyalty and protection . tugging at my heart, 

I surprised Matsuo by saying, ' “I wish that either you 
or I had won the booby prize.!" 


21 1 


NEW EXPERIENCES 

It was an unusual thing for snow to remain on the 
ground longer than a few days, but Mother laughingly 
declared that the American gods of the weather had 
evidently planned a special season in order to keep me 
from being homesick. At any rate, more snow fell and 
still more, and we began to see sleighs go by — light, car- 
riage-like vehicles, filled with laughing ladies in furs and 
• with gay scarfs floating behind them as they flew by. 
It was like a scene from the theatre. How different 
from the deep snows of Echigo, over which snow-booted 
men pulled heavy sledges—built for work, not fun- 
chanting, as they pulled, a steady, rhythmic “En yara-^a! 
En yara-yar I missed the purity of Echigo’s clear skies 
and snowy mountain-sides, for it was only a few days until 
the coal-tainted air had stolen the fresh whiteness from 
our snow, but the happiness of the children was not spoiled. 
Daruma Samas stood on every lawn, and the streets were 
filled with boys throwing snowballs. One day from my 
window I saw a lively snow-fight in which a group of 
besiegers pressed hard a heroic few, bravely dodging 
behind two barrels and a board with snow piled beneath. 
When the besiegers called a truce and ran around the 
corner for reinforcements, I pushed up my window and 
clapped as hard as I could. 

The boys had a good time, but as I watched their soiled 
tracks in the snow and the smoky colour of the bails, my 
mind went to Ishi’s stories of the snow-battles held in the 
courtyard of the old mansion at Nagaoka during the first 
years of Mother’s life there. In those days life in the 
daimio households of even small castle towns was based on 
the customs of the lords and ladies in the court of the 
shogun, and, in a less degree, it was as luxurious and as 
frivolous. 

Occasionally, when the winter season was late, the 
first snows that fell were light and dry. On the morning 


212 A DAUGHTER OF THE SAMURAI 

after such a snow had fallen, when the air was full of the 
cool sunshine of Echigo, and the ground white and spark- 
ling, the men would lay aside their swords, and with their 
pleated skirts gracefully caught up at the sides, run out 
into the big open court. Soon they would be joined by 
the women, their gay trains looped over their scarlet 
skirts and their long, bright sleeves held back with gay 
cords. No one wore wooden shoes or even sandals, for 
that would mar the purity of the snow, but with only 
the white foot-mitten on the feet, with bare heads and 
tinkling hairpins, all joined in the battle of snowballs. 
There was running, with laughter, and merriment, and the 
air filled with flying and breaking balls through which 
could be seen the tossing of bright sleeves and dodging 
black heads powdered with snow. Our old servants often 
told me of those gay scenes, and Baya, the oldest of them 
all, would solemnly shake her head from side to side and 
sigh over the fact that Etsu-bo’s enjoyment must consist 
only of climbing the snow hills piled in the street, and 
of racing with Sister on snow-shoes as we went to and 
from school. 

The children of my American neighbours had no snow- 
shoe races, but there was great excitement over coasting. 
Ours was a hilly suburb and almost every lawn had at 
least one curving slope; but the snow was thin and no one 
wanted the grass worn off or beaten down. Of course 
the sidewalks were cleaned and the streets were forbidden. 
The older boys had discovered a few long slopes and 
monopolized them, but the smaller children could only 
stand around and watch, unless some big brother or kind 
friend would occasionally take pity and give a ride. 

One day I saw a group of four or five little girls with 
two red sleds standing by our iron gates and looking 
wistfully up at the long slope of our side lawn. 

“It would ruin the appearance of the whole place for 



NEW EXPERIENCES 


215 

them to be allowed to make a brown track there,” I said 
to Mother. 

“It is not the appearance, Etsu,” Mother replied. 
“ Probably all the track those little folks would make 
would not kill the grass; but it is too dangerous. They 
would have to bump over two gravel paths and end 
abruptly at the top of the stone wall. The battlements 
are not high, and the sleds might leap over on to the 
outside walk, four feet below. I should be afraid to risk 
it.” 

That afternoon as Mother and I were walking to a 
meeting of the Ladies’ Club we passed the home of Doctor 
Miller. His lawn was small but it was one of the prettiest 
and best kept in our neighbourhood. The hill began 
at the roadway and swept in a straight, rather steep 
slope ending in a level stretch. At least a dozen children 
were gathered there, among them the forlorn little group 
with the two red sleds that I had seen in the morning. 
A long, smooth track had already been worn on which 
every moment a sled went down laden with a squealing, 
shrieking mass of hunched-up little figures. And on an 
uphill path beside the track a line of rosy-cheeked, rosy- 
nosed, panting coasters were pulling their sleds and 
shouting — not for any reason at all, except that they 
were having the best time of any coasters in the world. 

Day after day, as long as the snow lasted, that hill was 
reserved for the little folks, and every child that went 
gliding down the smooth slide, and every one that came 
struggling up the broken path, had laughter in the eyes, 
happiness in the heart, and, hidden somewhere within, a 
growing germ of unselfishness, kindness, and godliness 
that had been planted there by the kind act of a man who 
could see from the viewpoint of a child. 

It was like my father to have done that kind deed. 
Afterward I never saw Doctor Miller, even to pass him 


214 A DAUGHTER OF THE SAMURAI 

on the street, that I did not look to see if behind his fine, 
grave, intellectual face I could not see the heart of my 
father. I have not seen it, but I know it is there, and that 
some day, on the other side of the Sandzu River, those two 
beautiful souls will be friends. 

January brought to Matsuo and me a quiet celebration 
of our own. For weeks before, the letters from Japan had 
been coming more frequently, and occasionally the post- 
man would hand in a package wrapped in oil-paper and 
sealed with the oval stamp of Uncle Otani’s house, or the 
big square one of Inagaki. 

One of these packages contained a thin sash of soft 
white cotton, each end of which had been dipped in rouge, 
and also two emblems of congratulation — baby storks of 
rice-dough, one white and one red. 

These were Mother’s gifts for the “Five-month cere- 
mony,” a special celebration observed by expectant 
parents on that date. My thoughtful, loving, far-away 
mother! The tears came to my eyes as I explained it 
all to my dear American mother, who in sweet under- 
standing of the sacred ceremony asked how to prepare 
everything according to Japanese custom. 

At this celebration, besides the husband and wife, only 
women members of the two families are present. The 
young father-to-be sits beside his wife and the sash is 
passed through the sleeves of his garment from left to 
right. Then it is properly adjusted around the wife. 
From then on, she is called “a lady of retirement,” and 
her food, exercise, amusements, and reading are all of a 
character called “education for the Coming.” The gay, 
light balls of many-coloured silk thread which are seen 
in American shops belong to this time. 

In the package with the sash was a charm-card from my 
good Ishi. To obtain it she had made a pilgrimage of 
two days to the temple of Kiishibo-j in — “Demon of the 



NEW EXPERIENCES 

Mother-heart ’’—believing sincerely that the bit of paper 
mh ,ts mystenous symbols would protect me from every 

'i'®'* '■ved in the time 
of the Buddha a mother of many children, who was so po"r 

that she could not obtain food for them, and I helpless 

g t that It changed her loving mother heart into that of 

Iittle™babes she roamed the country stealing 

tn rl • ’ that, in some uncanny way belondnff 

to demon lore, their nourishment might be transferr^^f 

It Tu became a LSor t tJe 

rhll/* Buddha, knowing that however manv 

children a woman may have she always loves the youngest 
with special tenderness, took her babe and hid k “n Ss 
beping bowl. Hearing the child’s voice, but not beinv 

JrieV° distress and 

^ _ Listen,” said the merciful Buddha, restorine the 

Ide'mosrtmrr “1°“ “ thol^aS^art 

wniie most vromen have but ten; yet you mourn bitterlv 
for the loss of one. Think of other aching hearts with the 
sympathy you feel for your own.” 

he mother, thankfully clasping the babe to her breast 

rasTbc“m' r? and re“ S 

Sm noSrisrf bc t H "p”' never-withering freshness 

her heart, and she^vowed t^brame'^foT^vS* ir'"* 

fem£''.h‘:S '"“/r 

dr^enes and decorations of pomegranlte. 

daSrjer! ““ “ I «“ing on 

rSerThaf r'?' I '=««hed 

a prayer that my baby might be a boy. I wanted a son, 



2i6 a daughter of THE SAMURAI 

not only because every Japanese family believes it most 
desirable that the name should be carried on without adop- 
tion, but also for the selfish reason that both Matsuo’s 
family and my own would look upon me with more pride 
were I the mother of a son. Neither Matsuo nor I had, 
to any great extent, the feeling that woman is inferior to 
man, which has been so common a belief among all classes 
in Japan; but law and custom being what they were, it was 
such a serious inconvenience — ^yes, calamity — to have no 
son, that congratulations always fell more readily from 
the lips when the first-born was a boy. 

Little girls were always welcome in Japanese homes. 
Indeed, it was a great sorrow to have all sons and no 
daughter— a calamity second only to having all daughters 
and no son. 

The laws of our family system were planned in con- 
sideration for customs which themselves were based on 
ancient beliefs, all of which were wise and good — for 
their time. But as the world moves on, and the ages 
overlap each other, there come intervals when we climb 
haltingly; and this means martyrdom to the advanced. 
Nevertheless, perhaps it is wiser and kinder to the puzzled 
many for the advanced few to accommodate themselves 
somewhat to fading beliefs, instead of opposing them 
too bitterly, unless it should be a matter of principle, for 
we are climbing; slowly, but — climbing. Nature does not 
hasten, and Japanese are Nature’s pupils. 

Mother had a magic touch with flowers, and when 
spring came the crimson rambler that formed i heavy 
brocade curtain on one side of our veranda was thick with 
tiny buds. One morning I had gone to the door to see 
Matsuo off, and was wondering how soon the tiny roses 
would bloom, when I was joined by Mother. 

“There are hundreds of buds here,” I said. “This -mil 
be a bower of rich beauty some day. How much joy we 



new experiences 217 

hSn??? f because of superstition ! Roses do not look 
^ ^Tr!fh have harmful thorns.” ^ 

bow much joy you have because of traditions ” 
Mother, smrtag. -In the poem you taught me "St 

“** ” “"y » PuriQ, aod 

Although its roots are buried in earthly mire, 
rlolds a lesson of pride and inspiration. 

another blossom that is a teacher?” 

modest plum,” I answered quickly, “that blos- 
soms on snow-laden branches, is a bridal flower, Tecause 
It teaches courage and endurance/^ 

bow about the cherry?” asked Mother, 
un, that has an important meaning,” I replied. 

"The quick-falling cherry, that lives but a day 
And dies with destiny unfulfilled, 
is the brave spirit of samurai youth, 

To oSo"ht 

i, ri?y°iK T"'- ''Wng her hands. “This 

T are u ’ " 3 second-ratfi, poetry contest that you and 

I are having. Do you know any more flower poeL?” ^ 

mj^ne^r^""""® Sloriesi” And I rapfdly recited 

Japan-the way you and I 
of fnVrifk Japanese people often gather — a group 

of friends— and write poems. They meet at a Flower 
le^ng festival and hang poems on the flowery branches- 
or at a moon-gazing party where they sit in the light of the 



OF THE SAMURAI 

'■ m There is one place where the 

moonlight falls on a plain of ricefields and from the 
mountain-side the silvery reflection' can be seen in , every 
separate field. It is wonderful! And then everybody 
goes home feeling quiet and peaceful — and with new 
thoughts.''' 

^^Ah!" exclaimed Mother, starting quickly toward the 
door, adding, as she looked back over her shoulder, ^‘'Our 
poetry contest has given me a new thought!" And she 
disappeared within the house. 

Our conversation had reminded her of a package of 
morning-glory seeds that a friend had sent when she 
learned that a Japanese lady was living with her. 

yl. had almost forgotten about them," said Mother, 
returning with a trowel in her hand. These were gath- 
ered from the vines which my friend had grown from seeds 
that came from Japan, She says the blossoms are wonder- 
ful — four and five inches across. Where shall we plant 
them? We must choose some appropriate spot for the 
little grandseeds of a Japanese ancestor." 

^‘1 know exactly the place!" I cried, delighted, and 
leading Mother to our old-fashioned well I told her the 
legend of the maiden who went to a well to draw water 
and, finding a morning-glory tendril twined about the 
handle of the bucket, went away rather than break the 
tender vine. 

Mother was pleased, and she planted the seeds around 
the well curb while I softly hummed, over and over, the 
old poem: 

^‘The morning-glory tendril has chained my heart, 
tct it, be: ■ 

111 beg water of my neighbour,’^ 

We watched the vines eagerly as they reached out strong 
arms and climbed steadily upward. Mother often said. 



NEW EXPERIENCES 


ai9 

The coming of the blossoms and. of the baby will not be 
far,, apart/' 

■One morning I saw from my window. Mother and Clara 
standing by the well. They were looking at the^ vines, 
and talking excitedly. I hurried downstairs and across 
the lawn. The blossoms were open, but were pale, half- 
sized weaklings— not resembling at all the royal blossoms 
we treasure so dearly in Japan. Then I remembered 
having read that Japanese flowers do not like other lands 
and, after the first year, gradually fade away. With a 
superstitious clutch at my heart, I thought of my selfish 
prayer for a son and vowed to be gratefully content with 
either boy or girl if only the little one bore no pitiful trace 
of the transplanting. 

And then the baby came — ^weli and sweet and strong — 
upholding in her perfect babyhood the traditions of both 
America and Japan. I forgot that I had ever wanted a son, 
and Matsuo, after his first glimpse of his little daughter, 
remembered that he had always liked girls better than boys. 

Whether the paper charm of Kishibo-jin was of value 
or not, my good Ishi’s loving thought for me was a boon 
to my heart during those first weeks when I so longed for 
her wisdom and her love. And yet it was well that she 
was not with me, for she could never have fitted into our 
American life. The gentle, time-taking ways of a Japanese 
nurse crooning to a little bundle of crepe and brocade 
swinging in its silken hammock on her back would never 
have done for my active baby, who so soon learned to crow 
vdth delight and clutch disrespectfully at her father's 
head as he tossed her aloft in his strong arms. 

We decided to bring the baby up with all the healthful 
freedom given to' an .American, child,,, but we wanted her; 
to :have; a; Japanese " name. The ''meaning of Matsuo's; 
name .was pine "—the .emblem./ of strength; mine was 
- ricefield''— the emblem, of usefulness. ■ ^"^Therefore," 



220 A DAUGHTER OF THE SAMURAI 


said Matsuo, “the baby is already a combination of 
strength and usefulness, but she must have beauty also. 
So let us give her the name of our kind American mother, 
which, translated, means ‘flower.’” 

“And if we use the old-fashioned termination,” I cried 
with delight, “it will mean ‘foreign fields’ or ‘strange 
land.’” 

“Hanano — Flower in a Strange Land!” cried Matsuo, 
clapping his hands. “Nothing could be better.” 

Mother consented, and thus it was decided. 



CHAPTER XXII 


FLOWER IN A STRANGE LAND 

F or months after the baby came my entire life centred 
around that one small bit of humanity. Wherever 
I went, and no matter who came to see me, the conver- 
sation was sure to drift to her; and my letters to my mother 
held little else than the information that a few ounces had 
been added to the baby’s weight, or a new accent j:o the 
little cooings and gurglings, or that she had developed 
a dimple when she smiled. My mother must have seen 
the germ of a too-selfish love in my devotion; for one day 
I received from her a set of Buddhist picture-books which 
had belonged to Father’s library. How familiar and dear 
they looked! There were no stories — only pictures — 
but as I turned the pages, I could hear again the gentle 
voice of Honourable Grandmother and see the old tales 
acted before my mind as plainly as in the days of my 
childhood. Mother had marked some of the pages with a 
dot of vermilion. On one of these was a scene from “The 
Mount of Spears.” The story is of a favourite disciple 
of Buddha who grieved so bitterly over the loss of his 
beloved mother that the pitying Master exerted his 
holy power and took the sorrowing son to a place from 
which the mother could be seen. The disciple was 
horrified to behold his precious mother climbmg.painfully 
over a hilly path made of sharp spears. 

“Oh, good Master,” he cried, “you have brought me to 
the "Hell of Seven Hills.’ Why is my mother here? 
She never, throughout her life, did a wicked deed/’ 

zzi 



222 A DAUGHTER OF THE SAMURAI 

“But she had a wicked thought,” sadly the Buddha 
replied. “When you were a baby, her only care was for 
you, and one day when she saw a little field-mouse happily 
playing, she so longed to have its gray, silky tail for a 
cord to tie your holiday coat, that her wish was thought- 
murder.” 

I closed the book with a half-smile, for I understood at 
once the wordless warning of my gentle, anxious mother; 
but my heart was full of loving gratitude as I bowed 
respectfully in the direction of Japan and resolved that my 
love for my baby should make me more thoughtful and 
tender toward all the world. 

One of the first callers the baby had was our faithful 
black laundress, Minty. She had been washing for 
Mother for years, and, when I came, she accepted the 
additional burden of my queer clothes with kind good- 
nature. She had never spoken of them as being diflPerent 
from others, but several times I noticed her examining 
them with interest, especially my white foot mittens. 
These were made of cotton or silk, with the great toe 
separated, as is the thumb of a hand mitten. When 
she came upstairs to see the baby, the nurse was holding 
the little one on her lap, and Minty squatted down by her 
side and began talking baby talk, cooing and clucking 
in the most motherly fashion. 

Presently she looked up. 

“Can I see her feet?” she asked. 

“Certainly,” said the nurse, turning up the baby’s 
long dress and cuddling the little pink feet in her hand. 

“My lawsy me!” cried Minty in a tone of the greatest 
astonishment. “If they ain’t jus’ like ourn!” 

“Of course,” said the surprised nurse. “What did you 
think?” 

“Why, the stockin’s is double,” said Minty, almost in 
a tone of awe, “and I s’posed they wuz two-toed folks.” 


FLOWER IN A STRANGE LAND 


When the nurse told my husband he shouted with 
merriment and finally said/ ^^Well, Minty has struck 
back for the whole European race and got even with 
Japan/^ 

' The nurse was puzzled, but I knew very well what he 
meant. When I was a child it was a general belief among 
the common people of Japan that Europeans had feet 
like horses^ hoofs, because they wore leather bags 
on their feet instead of sandals. That is why one of 
our old-fashioned names for foreigners was ^^one-toed 
fellows:^’ 

Neither Mother nor I knew much about the latest 
theories of taking care of babies; so I rocked Hanano 
to sleep with a lullaby. Whether or not it was the influ- 
ence of the foreign atmosphere which so entirely sur- 
rounded me I do not know, but it seemed more natural 
for me to sing ‘^^Hush-a-bye, baby!'’ than the old Japanese 
lullaby that Ishi used to croon as she swayed back and 
forth with me snuggled comfortably against her back. 

*^Baby, sleep! Baby, sleep! 

Where has thy nurse gone? 

She went far away to Grandmo therms home 
Over the hills and valleys. 

Soon she will bring to thee 
Fish and red rice. 

Fish and red rice.^^ 

It was not the foreign atmosphere, however, that was 
responsible for the prayer with which, as soon as she was 
old enough to lisp it, Hanano was tucked into her little 
bed at night. That dates back to the memory-stone day 
when my wonderful Tales of the Western Seas" came to 
me. In one of the thin volumes of tough paper tied with 
silk cord was a musical little poem that I committed to 
memory, all unknowing that years after I would teach it. 


224 A" DAUGHTER OF THE SAMURAI 

clothed in strange, foreign words, to my own little child. 
It was— • 

Ware ima inentosu, 

Waga Kami waga tamasMi wo mamoritamae, 

Moshi ware mesame%ushite shinaba, 

Shu yo / waga tamashii wo sukueiamae, 

Kore, ware Shu no nani yorite negotokoro narL 

Now I lay me down to sleep. 

I pray the Lord my soul to keep. 

If I should die before I wake, 

I pray the Lord my soul to take. 

This I ask for Jesus’ sake. 

There is a saying in Japan, ^^Only the fingers of a babe 
can tie a uniting knot that will pull two families together.” 
As the Japanese marriage is not an affair of individuals 
I had never applied the saying to Matsuo and myself, 
but one day some Mysterious Power twisted this bit of 
truth into an incident that played an unsuspected and 
important part in my life and in that of my husband. 

Matsuo was a man who had always been vitally inter- 
ested in his business. I think that, before the baby 
came, there had been nothing in his life to which it was 
second. He and I were very good friends, but we seldom 
talked freely to each other except in the presence of others. 
Indeed, we had no common topic of conversation; for he 
was interested in his own plans, and my mind was taken 
up with my home and my new friends. But from the day 
the baby came, everything was changed. Now we had 
many things to talk about, and for the first time 1 began 
to feel acquainted with my husband. 

But always, deep in my heart, was the feeling that the 
baby was mine, I did not trace any likeness to Matsuo; 
nor did I want to. I do not mean that I objected to her 
resembling him, but that I never thought of her as really 
belonging to any one but myself and my own family. 


LiBRAfiY Oi 


FIOWER IN A STRANGE LAND 225 

One day when I was in the city I stopped for a few 
moments at my husband’s store. He happened to be 
busy and I waited in the office. His desk looked to me 
in great disorder, and right in front, in a wide pigeon-hole, 
was an odd thing to be in a cluttered-up office. It was 
a little lacquer box of exquisite workmanship and bearing 
a crest that is rarely seen outside a museum. I lifted the 
lid, and there, before my startled eyes, were three strange 
objects— a green paper whirligig, some little pieces of clay 
the baby’s fingers had pressed into crude shapes, and a 
collapsed balloon. 

I stood still, my heart beating quickly; then I turned 
away, feeling as if I had taken an unbidden glance into 
the heart of a stranger. In that moment came the reali- 
zation that there was another claim on my baby as tender 
and as strong as my own, and with a throb of remorse 
my heart turned toward my husband with a strange new 
feeling. 

Among the strong influences in Hanano’s life were the 
frequent calls and unfailing kindness of our good friend 
Mrs. Wilson. She seldom came that she did not bring 
flowers for Mother, and on Easter and family anniver- 
saries our parlours were bowers of bloom from her generous 
conservatory. 

One day, when Hanano was about a year old, she was 
sitting on Mother’s lap by the window when she saw the 
familiar carriage coming up the driveway. It stopped and 
Mrs. Wilson stepped out. Glancing up and seeing the 
baby she waved a white-gloved hand and smiled. The sun 
was shining on her stately figure in its gown of soft helio- 
trope shade, with flowers in her arms. 

“Oh, oh!” cried the baby, joyfully clapping her hands. 
“Pretty Flower Lady! Pretty Flower Lady!” 

Thus was she christened in the baby’s heart, and 
“ Flower Lady” she h^is been to us all ever since. May the 


226 A DAUGHTER OF THE SAMURAI 

many blossoms which her generous hands have scattered 
far and wide bloom anew for her in all their symbolism 
of happiness and peace when she reaches the beautiful 
gardens across the river. 

From the time when Hanano first recognized her father 
as a separate individual, he brought her toys, and she was 
no sooner toddling about and beginning to prattle than 
he spent most of his leisure time in playing with her, 
carrying her about or even taking her to call on the neigh- 
bours. 

One Sunday afternoon just after Matsuo had started 
olF somewhere with her, Mother said: “I have never 
known a more devoted father than Matsuo. Are all 
Japanese men as unselfish with their children?” 

“Why, I — don’t — know,” I replied slowly. “Aren’t 
American men fond of their children ? ” 

“Oh, yes,” she answered quickly, “but Matsuo comes 
home early every evening to play with Hanano, and the 
other day he closed his store for the entire afternoon just 
to take her to the zoo.” 

My mind went back to my father — and Mr. Toda — and 
other fathers; and suddenly I saw Japanese men in a new 
light. “They have no chance!” I thought, a little bitterly. 
“An American man can show his feelings without shame, 
but convention chains a Japanese man. It pulls a mask 
over his face, closes his lips, and numbs his actions. How- 
ever a husband many feel toward his wife, he cannot 
in public show her affection, or even respect; nor does she 
wish him to. It is not good form. The only time' a man 
of dignity dares betray his heart is when he is with a little 
child — either his own or another’s. Then he has the only 
outlet that etiquette allows; and even then he must guide 
his actions by rule. A father becomes his little son’s 
comrade. He wrestles with him, races with him, and acts 
with him scenes of samurai daring, but he loves his little 



FLOWER IN A STRANGE LAND 


227 

d aughter with a great tenderness and accepts her gentle ca- 
resses with a heart hunger that is such pathos it is tragedy. 

Matsuo was more demonstrative to me than would have 
been polite had we been living in Japan, but we both re- 
spected formality, and it was years before I realized how 
deep were his feelings for his family. 

After that remark of Mother’s and the thoughts that 
it aroused I delayed Hanano’s bedtime, and she had many 
a romp with her father after the hour when children 
are sypposed to be asleep. One moonlight evening I came 
down and found them running around the lawn, chasing 
each other and dodging this way and that, while Mother 
sat on the porch laughing and applauding. They were 
playing, “Shadow catch Shadow.” 

"I used to play that on moonlight nights when I was 
a little girl,” I said. 

“Why, is there a moon in Japan?” asked Hanano in 
great surprise. 

“This very same one,” her father replied. “Wherever 
you go, all your life, you will see it above you in the sky.” 

“Then it walks with me,” said Hanano with satisfaction, 
“and when I go to Japan, God will be with me and can 
see my Japanese grandma.” 

Matsuo and I glanced at each other, a little puzzled. 
Hanano had always associated the Man in the Moon with 
the face of God, but I did not know until afterward that she 
had heard a lady who was calling on Mother that afternoon 
express regret that “ beautiful Japan is a country without 
God.”' 

Hanano’s odd idea was somewhat startling, but it was a 
pleasant one to her and I did not correct it. “She will 
learn soon enough in this practical country,” I thought 
with a sigh. In Japan children are saved many a puzzling 
heartache, for most of our people retain sympathy for 
childish illusions even to old age; thus poetic fancies are 



m 8 a daughter of THE SAMURAI ^ , 

less apt to be too suddenly shattered. Daily life over 
there is full of mystic thought. To the masses of people, 
nothing in the active life about us is more real than the 
unseen forces which people the earth and air; and no day 
passes that does not bring to almost everyone some sug- 
gestion of the presence of kindly spirits. Most of the 
gods we look Upon as friendly comrades, and the simple 
duties we owe them we perform with calm and pleasant 
feelings of gratitude and courtesy. There is little fear of 
penalty for neglect other than humiliation for a lack of 
politeness, which weighs a good deal with a Japanese. 
The house shrines remind us that relatives are watching 
over us, and we show our appreciation with incense and 
prayer. The fire goddess is the helpful ruler of the 
kitchen, whose thanks are the slender ends of a weave of 
cloth hung beside the kitchen fire-box. The goodly god of 
rice asks that we keep the fire beneath the rice-kettle free 
from rubbish. The water goddess, who blesses the 
streams and rivers, demands that the wells be clean. 
The seven gods of fortune — ^Industry, Wealth, Wisdom, 
Strength, Beauty, Happiness, and Long Life— are seen 
ever 3 rwhere and always greeted with a smiling welcome; 
and the two especially honoured by tradesmen, Industry 
and Wealth, are perched on a prominent shelf in every 
store, from which their faces look down, giving to the mas- 
ter the comfortable assurance that friends are near. The 
hideous gods beside temple doors are not hideous to us, for 
they are the fierce watch-dogs who protect us from danger, 
and the gods of the air^ — ^Thunder, Wind, and Rain — are 
guardians for our good. Above all these lesser gods 
the Sun goddess, ancestress of our Imperial line, watches 
over the entire land with kindly, helpful light. 

These various gods are a confused mixture of Shinto 
and Buddhist ; for the religion of the masses vaguely com- 
bines both beliefs. As a rule this is not a religion of fear. 



FLOWER IN A STRANGE LAND 229 

although the evil spirits of the hells, if seriously accepted 
as pictured in ancient Buddhist books, are fearful indeed; 
but even they allow two days in each year when the re- 
pentant may climb to a higher plane. Thus, to the Japa- 
nese, even the sad and puzzling path of transmigration, 
into which unconscious footsteps so often wander, leads 
at last, after the long period of helplessness and gloom, to a 
final hope. 

Buddhism, on its ages-long journey from India to 
Japan, seems to have dropped many of its original ele- 
ments of terror; or else they were softened and lost in the 
goodly company of our jolly and helpful Shinto gods. 
Not one of these do we dread, for, in Shintoism, even 
Death is only a floating cloud through which we pass on 
our journey in the sunshine of Nature’s eternal life. 

Our man-made laws of convention have had more power 
in moulding the lives of the people and have left a more 
lasting stamp on their souls than have our gods. Our 
complex religion arouses the interest of the intellectual, 
and it teaches genuine resignation; but it does not guide 
the ignorant with a comprehending wisdom, nor does it 
give to the brooding and the sorrowful the immediate com- 
fort of cheerfulness and hope that comes with a belief in 
the peasant priest of Nazareth. 



tz8 A DAUGHTER OF THE SAMURAI 

less apt to be too suddenly shattered. Daily life over 
there is full of mystic thought. To the masses of people, 
nothing in the active life about us is more real than the 
unseen forces which people the earth and air; and no day 
passes that does not bring to almost everyone some sug- 
gestion of the presence of kindly spirits. Most of the 
gods we look upon as friendly comrades, and the simple 
duties we owe them we perform with calm and pleasant 
feelings of gratitude and courtesy. There is little fear of 
penalty for neglect other than humiliation for a lack of 
politeness, which weighs a good deal with a Japanese. 
The house shrines remind us that relatives are watching 
over us, and we show our appreciation with incense and 
prayer. The fire goddess is the helpful ruler of the 
kitchen, whose thanks are the slender ends of a weave of 
cloth hung beside the kitchen fire-box. The goodly god of 
rice asks that we keep the fire beneath the rice-kettle free 
from rubbish. The water goddess, who blesses the 
streams and rivers, demands that the wells be clean. 
The seven gods of fortune — ^Industry, Wealth, Wisdom, 
Strength, Beauty, Happiness, and Long Life — are seen 
ever 3 nvhere and always greeted with a smiling welcome; 
and the two especially honoured by tradesmen, Industry 
and Wealth, are perched on a prominent shelf in every 
store, from which their faces look down, giving to the mas- 
ter the comfortable assurance that friends are near. The 
hideous gods beside temple doors are not hideous to us, for 
they are the fierce watch-dogs who protect us from danger, 
and the gods of the air — ^Thunder, Wind, and Rain — are 
guardians for our good. Above all these lesser gods 
the Sun goddess, ancestress of our Imperial line, watches 
over the entire land with kindly, helpful light. 

These various gods are a confused mixture of Shinto 
and Buddhist; for the religion of the masses vaguely com- 
bines both beliefs. As a rule this is not a religion of fear. 



IN A STRANGE LAND 229 

although the evil spirits of the hells, if seriously accepted 
as pictured m anaent Buddhist books, are fearful indLd; 
but even they allow two days in each year when the re^ 
pentant may climb to a higher plane. Thus, to the Japa- 
nese, even the sad and puzzling path of transmigration, 
into which unconscious footsteps so often wander, leads 
finaltofr’'^^ of helplessness and gloom, to a 

Buddhism, on its ages-long journey from India to 
Japan, seems to have dropped many of its original ele- 
ment of terror; or else they were softened and lost in the 
goodly company of our jolly and helpful Shinto gods. 
Not one of^ these do we dread, for, in Shintoism, even 
Death IS only a floating cloud through which we pass on 
our journey m the sunshine of Nature’s eternal life 
^ Uur man-made law of convention have had more power 
in moulding the lives of the people and have left a more 
lasting stamp on their souls than have our gods Our 
complex rehgion arouses the interest of the intellectual, 
and It teaches genuine resignation; but it does not guide 
the Ignorant with a comprehending wisdom, nor does it 
give to the brooding and the sorrowful the immediate com- 
fort of cheerfulness and hope that comes with a belief in 
the peasant priest of Nazareth. 



CHAPTER XXIII 


CHIYO 

A fter Hanano had learned that the moon was a 
friend she could depend upon wherever she might 
travel, she became intensely interested in moon stories, 
I postponed telling her the legend of the white rabbit who 
is fated for all time to pound rice dough in a great wooden 
bowl, for it is his shadow which Japanese children see in 
every full moon; and I thought I would allow her to drift 
gradually from her idealization of the American legend. 
But I told her of our moon-gazing parties where families 
or groups of friends gather in some beautiful open spot 
and write poems praising the brilliant leaves of the moon 
vine which causes the glow of autumn that in America is 
called Indian summer. 

We were sitting on the doorstep of the back parlour one 
evening, looking out across the porch at the moon sailing 
round and clear in a cloudless sky, and I told her how in 
Japan, on that very night, every house, from the palace of 
the Emperor to the hut of his humblest subject, would 
have on the porch or in the garden, where it could catch 
the glow of the full moon, a small table with fruits and 
vegetables — everything round— arranged in a certain 
manner, in honour of the goddess of the moon, 

"'Oh, how pretty!’' cried Hanano. ""I wish I could be 
there to seel” 

There was the rustling of a newspaper behind us, 
""Etsu,” called Matsuo, "there is some kind of a child's 
story about that celebration. I remember once wdien my 



CHIYO 


231 

elder sister and I had been teasing our little sister, who 
was a timid child, that my aunt told us a story of gentle 
Lady Moon and naughty Rain and Wind who tried to 
spoil her pleasure on an August full-moon night.” 

“Gh, tell me!” cried Hanano, clapping her hands and 
running to her father. 

“I’m not much on stories,” said Matsuo, taking up his 
paper again, “but your mother will know it. Etsu, you 
tell it to her.” 

So Hanano came back to the doorstep, and I tried to re- 
call the half-forgotten story of 

LADY MOON AND HER ENEMIES 

One pleasant evening in August the beautiful Lady 
Moon was sitting in front of her toilet stand. As she 
lifted the powder puff to clear and soften her bright 
colouring she said to herself : 

“I must not disappoint the Earth people to-night. Of 
all the nights of the year they look forward to the ‘Hon- 
ourable Fifteenth,’ for this is the time when my beauty is 
at the crown of its glory.” 

Turning the mirror a trifle, she carefully arranged her 
fluffy collar. 

“It seems a poor sort of life — ^to do just nothing but 
smile and look happy! But that is my only way to glad- 
den the world, so to-night I will shine my brightest and 
best. And,” she added, as she peeped over the edge of her 
balcony and saw the Earth beneath, “after all, it is a 
pleasant duty — especially to-night !” 

It was no wonder she smiled with pleasure, for the whole 
world was decorated in her honour. Every city and 
town, every little village, every lonely hut on the moun- 
tain-side, and every humble fisher cot on the shore had 
upon its porch or placed in front where it could be seen by 



: : 232 :' . A DAUGHTER, OF THE SAMURAI . 

the eye of the Lady Moon a tiny table laden with treasure 
balls. There were rice dumplings, chestnuts, potatoes, 
persimmons, peas, and plums, and, standing in their 
midst, two circular sake vases, holding, stiff and upright, 
their folded white papers. Everything had been carefully 
selected as being the nearest a perfect round in shape that 
could be obtained, for ^^round^^ is the symbol of perfec- 
tion, and on this night only the very best of everything 
was considered worthy to be shown to the pure and per- 
fect '"Lady of the Sky.""^ 

Mistress Rain, who lived near Lady Moon, peered 
through her misty windows with envious eyes. She saw 
the Earth houses decorated in honour of her neighbour, 
and caught the breath of the messages floating upward 
from the lips of young girls: "Great Mysterious! Make 
my heart as pure as the moonbeams and my life as perfect 
as the bright and round Lady Moon above 

As Mistress Rain listened she swished her skirts so 
viciously that all the umbrellas which decorated them sud- 
denly flew open, and she had to clutch them quickly to 
keep the water with which they were filled from spilling 
over the Earth. Even as it was, a shower of drops fell 
sparkling through the moonlight, and the Earth people 
looked up in surprise. 

"I haven’t seen the like since last August,” continued 
the angry Mistress Rain. " Every flower vase on the 
earth appears to be filled with August moon-flowers, and 
all the porches are newly polished and spread with finest 
cushions, so the honourable aged ones may be seated where 
they can behold the glory of Lady Moon. It is not fair!” 

There was another swish, and again a shower of rain 
drops went sparkling through the moonlight. 

Just then the Wind god sailed by, holding tight in his 
hands the ends of his bag of breezes. Mistress Rain no- 
ticed the dark scowl on his brow, and called : 



CHIYO 


m 

“Good evening, Kase no kami San! I am glad to see 
you passing this way. You look as if you are searching 
for unexpected work.” 

The Wind god stopped and seated himself upon a cloud, 
Still holding tight to the ends of the bag. 

“Earth beings are the queerest of creatures!” he com- 
plained. “Lady Moon lives in the world of Sky, and so 
do we; yet they think only of her! She has an honourable 
title given to her, and not a single month of the year 
passes, that the fifteenth day is not observed in her honour. 
Even on the third day, when she climbs out of her cellar, 
they welcome her face as she peeps over the wall with such 
joy that one would think they had never expected to see 
her again!” 

“Yes, yes!” excitedly cried Mistress Rain, “and es- 
pecially this August night! They always look with anx- 
ious eyes for fear that you or I may appear, although 
uninvited and unwelcome.” 

“This August night!” exclaimed the Wind god with 
great scorn. “Yes, this very night I’d like to show those 
Earth creatures what I could do !” 

“It would be such fun,” said sly Mistress Rain, “to go 
with a rush and upset all the things displayed in honour 
of Lady Moon.” 

“Ho! Ho! Ho!” laughed the Wind god, so pleased 
with the idea that he loosened his hold on one 
end of the bag, and a sudden gust of wind swept 
through the sky, causing consternation among the Earth 
people. 

Lady Moon was quietly and calmly smiling upon the 
world, her mind busy with gentle and unselfish thoughts, 
when the Wind god and Mistress Rain silently slipped 
behind the mountains and journeyed a long way so that 
they could come unexpectedly from the side of the sea. 
But Lady Moon saw them, and, sad and disappointed, 



234 A DAUGHTER OF THE SAMURAI 

she hid behind a curtain while her triumphant enemies 
swept on over the world. • 

Oh, it was a terrific whirl of angry Wind and Rain! 
On rushed the god, pushing his big bag before him with 
loosened ends, and close behind whirled Mistress Rain 
with a loud “swish! — swish!” as torrents of water poured 
from the hundreds of wide-open umbrellas on her skirts. 

But, ah, what disappointment was theirs!' The rollick- 
ing laugh of the Wind god, which had loosened for an 
instant his hold on the end of the bag, had been warning 
enough, even if the sharp-eyed Earth people had not seen 
the clouds of mist sweeping around the mountains. Every 
house was prepared for the storm. The beautiful little 
tables had disappeared, and the wild rushes of Wind and 
Rain were met by closed wooden doors. They howled and 
shrieked and darted and whirled until both were ex- 
hausted; then, with the god muttering and Mistress Rain 
weeping, they hurried across the valley to their homes. 

When all was once more quiet the sorrowful Lady Moon 
lifted her head. 

“My pleasure is spoiled!” she sighed. “The beautiful 
decorations of the Earth houses are now hidden, and the 
people have closed their eyes in sleep.” 

Suddenly a brilliant smile spread over her face, and she 
said bravely: 

“But I will do my duty! Even though no one sees me, 
I will smile my brightest and best!” 

She pushed aside her curtain and looked down upon the 
world. Her gentle, unselfish sweetness received' its re- 
ward, for all the doors of the Earth houses were open wide, 
and the people were gathered on the porches watching for 
her face. When it appeared songs of welcome floated up- 
ward. 

“Oh, see the beautiful Lady Moon!” the voices cried. 



CHIYO 


m 

“Again she smiles upon us! After a storm she is always 
doubly beautiful, and all the world is doubly glad!” 

“That’s a very moral story,” said Hanano thoughtfully. 
“I feel kind of sorry for Mr. Wind and Mrs. Rain, but I 
love Lady Moon. Let us fix a table like they have in 
Japan. Clara will give us the things and the moonshine 
is beautiful on our porch edge.” 

“I have something just as good,” said Matsuo, starting 
for the stairway. “Wait a moment.” 

He brought a small wooden box and put it on the table. 
It was a phonograph with records on spools of wax and 
with a little horn attached, into which we could talk and 
make records of our own voices. Matsuo was to start to 
Japan in a few days on a business trip and he had selected 
the phonograph as a gift for my mother, that it might 
carry to her the voice of her little granddaughter. We 
called Mother, and all of us had quite an exciting time 
watching Matsuo arrange the machine. Then he took 
his seat before it, with Hanano on his lap, and they had a 
rehearsal. Not until she began to prattle away in her 
sweet, childish English did it dawn upon us that her puz- 
zled grandmother would not be able to understand a word 
that she said. 

This made us realize what a little American we had in 
our Japanese nest, and brought directly before us one of 
the great problems of Japan. 

“If our daughter were a boy,” Matsuo said that night, 
“we might have reason to look serious. I should not 
want to prepare my son to live in a country where, if 
capable, he would not be welcome to occupy the highest 
position his country has to offer its citizens.” 

“Even for our daughter,” I replied, “there is no per- 
manent place in this country; nor in Japan either, with 
only an American education.” 



236 A DAUGHTER OF THE SAMURAI 

The result of this conversation was that when Matsuo 
returned from Japan he brought an entire set of school 
readers, from kindergarten to high school; also the five 
steps of articles for the Doll Festival. This festival is 
ages old and educational in character. Any one who 
understands it thoroughly has a nearly complete knowl- 
edge of Japanese folklore, history, customs, and ideals. 
Every girl has a doll festival set, and when she marries, 
takes it with her to her new home. The set Matsuo 
brought to Hanano was mine — the one which Brother ob- 
jected to my bringing with me to America. 

When the set came we all went out to the big, light car- 
riage house, and after William had opened the rough 
board box, Matsuo and he carefully lifted out the smooth, 
various-sized whitewood boxes, each holding a doll. My 
eyes fell on a long, flat package wrapped in purple crepe 
bearing the Inagaki crest. 

“Why, Mother has sent the Komoro kamibinal” I 
cried in astonishment, lifting the package respectfully to 
my forehead. 

“I thought all the Komoro dolls were gone except the 
two that you used to play with,” said Mother. 

“The are different,” said Matsuo. 

“Yes,” I said slowly, “the kamihina are different. 
They belong to the family. They can never be sold, or 
given away, or disposed of in any way. My mother must 
have had these put away for years — and now she has 
sent them to me.” 

I was touched, for it brought forcibly before, me the 
truth that I was the last of the “honourable inside” of 
the house of Inagaki. A doll festival set belonged to the 
daughter; the master of the house having no control over 
the home department. 

No doll festival set, however elaborate, is complete with- 
out these two long, odd-shaped dolls. In olden time 



CHIYO 


m 

they were always of paper. Later, extravagant families 
sometimes made them of brocade or crepe, but however 
rich the material, they were called paper dolls and were 
always folded in the same crude shape of the primitive 
originals. When the set is arranged for the celebration^ 
these dolls have no fixed place, as all the others have, but 
may be put anywhere, except on the top shelf reserved 
for the Emperor and Empress. 

The origin of the Doll Festival reaches back to the crude 
days of Shintoism. At that time a sinful person would 
seek purification by bathing in a stream. As time passed, 
and power or riches brought independent thought, it 
became customary for the lazy and the luxurious to send a 
substitute. Still later, an inanimate sacrifice in human 
form was considered satisfactory, and from anything near 
and dear as a part of one^s own self the two images were 
made. There were tiny wooden spools, two cocoons or 
simply shaped bunches of floss, the most valued pos- 
session of weaving villages; even crudely cut vegetables 
in farming districts. There were always two, supposed 
to be male and female, thus representing the entire family 
• — both men and women members. Gradually, dolls rudely 
cut from paper — a precious material in those days — came 
to be universally used and were called kamibina which 
means ^^paper dolls. 

In time one fixed date was decided upon for universal 
atonement, and the First Serpent Day of Spring’^ was 
chosen, because the time of the dragon^s change of skin is 
symbolic- of the slipping from winters darkness of sin 
into the light and hope of spring. That date is the one 
still observed. 

In the days of shogun power, when the Emperor was 
considered too sacred to be seen, this festival represented 
an annual visit from the invisible ruler to show his per- 
sonal interest in his people; thus it encouraged loyalty to 


238 A DAUGHTER OF THE SAMURAI 

the loved and unseen Emperor. In feudal times, when, 
in the samurai class, a wife’s duties became those of her 
absent husband, and children were necessarily left to the 
care of high-bred attendants, this festival became, in 
those families, the only opportunity for girls to be trained 
in the domestic duties which were such an essential part of 
every Japanese girl’s education. 

The lunar calendar advanced “First Serpent Day” to 
March 3d, and after Hanano’s set came, we celebrated 
that day each year just as it is done in Japan. Five steps 
were put up in the parlour and covered with red cloth. 
On these we arranged the miniature Emperor and Em- 
press with court ladies, musicians, and various attendants. 
There were also doll furniture and household implements. 
On the lowest steps were tiny tables with food prepared by 
Hanano herself, with some help from me, and served by 
her to the playmates who were always invited to join 
her. And so “Third Day of Third Month” came to be 
looked forward to by Hanano’s little American friends 
just as it has been by little Japanese girls for almost a 
thousand years. 

One of these celebrations, when Hanano was almost 
five years old, was an especially busy day for her, as, in 
addition to her duties as hostess, she received several 
telephone messages of congratulation, to which, with a 
feeling of great importance, she replied in person. Her 
happy day was made more so because her best friend, Su- 
san, brought her little sister, a delicate-faced, golden- 
haired child who was just learning to walk. Hanano was 
a gracious hostess to all, but she was especially attentive 
to the dainty little toddler. That night when she was 
ready for her usual evening prayer she looked up at me 
very seriously. 

“Mamma, may I say to God just what I please?” she 
asked. 


CHIYO 


m 

“Yes, dear,” I replied, but I was startled when, from the 
little bowed figure with clasped hands, came a sudden, 
“Hello, God!” 

I reached out my hand to check her. Then I remem- 
bered that I had always taught her to respect her father 
next to God, and that was the greeting she used to him 
when he was too far away to be seen. I softly withdrew 
my hand. Then again I was startled by the solemn 
little voice, whispering, “Please give me a little sister 
like Susan’s.” 

I was too much surprised to speak, and she went on with 
“Now I lay me” to the end. 

As I tucked her into bed I said, “How did you happen 
to ask God for a little sister, Hanano ?” 

“That’s how Susan got her sister,” she replied. “She 
prayed for her a long time, and now she’s here.” 

I went away a little awed, for I knew her prayer would 
be answered. 

The March festival was long past, and May almost 
gone, when one morning Hanano’s father told her that she 
had a little sister and led her into the room where the 
baby was. Hanano gazed with wide-open, astonished 
eyes upon black-haired, pink-faced little Chiyo. She 
said not a word but walked straight down the stairs to 
Grandma. 

“I didn’t pray for that,” she told Mother, with a troub- 
led look. “I wanted a baby with yellow hair like Susan’s 
little sister.” 

Clara happened to be in the room, and with the freedom 
of an American servant, said, “Yellow hair on a Japa- 
nese baby would h& a funny sight!” and burst out laughing. 

“It’s not a Japanese baby!” Hanano indignantly 
cried. “I didn’t ask iox a Japanese baby! I don’t want 
a Japanese baby!” 

Mother took the child on her lap and told her how 



240 A DAUGHTER OF THE SAMURAI 

proud we all were to have two little Japanese girls in cur 
home, and so brought a slow comfort to the disappointed 
little heart. 

That afternoon Mother saw Hanano sitting a long 
time very quietly in front of the big mirror that stood 
between the two front windows of the parlour. 

“What is it you see, dear?” Mother asked. 

“I s’pose I’m a Japanese girl, too,” Hanano answered 
slowly. “I don’t look like Susan or Alice.” 

She winked several times very fast, then, with a choking 
gulp, her loyalty to blue eyes and yellow hair sucfcumbed 
to loyalty to love, and she added, “But Mamma is pretty ! 
I’m going to be like her!” and climbed down from the chair. 

No one can sound the depths of a child’s thoughts, but 
from that day Hanano developed an interest in Japanese 
things. Matsuo was fond of listening to her prattle and 
of playing with her, but she depended upon me for stories; 
and so, night after night, I would talk of our heroes and 
repeat to her the songs and fairy lore which had been part 
of my child life. Best of all she liked to have me talk of 
the pretty black-haired children— I always said they were 
pretty — ^who made chains of cherry blossoms or played 
games in a garden with a stone lantern and a curving 
bridge that spanned a pond set in the midst of flowers 
and tiny trees. I almost grew homesick as I painted 
these word pictures for her, or sat in the twilight singing a 
plaintive Japanese lullaby to the baby, while Hanano 
stood beside me, humming softly beneath her breath. 

Was this sudden love for the land she had never seen an 
inheritance, or — for children sometimes seem to be un- 
cannily endowed with insight — ^was it premonition ? 

One day the old familiar world ended for me, leaving 
me with memories — comforting ones and regretful ones — 
all closely wrapped in a whirl of anxious, frightened ques- 
tioning, for no longer had I a husband or my children a 



CHIYO 


241 


father. Matsuo^ with a last merry, word , and a ■ sleepy 
smile, had quickly and painlessly slipped over the border 
into the old-new country beyond our ken. 

And now, for my children, and myself, nothing was left 
but farewells and a long, ■ lonely journey. The country 
that had reached out so pleasant a welcome to me, that had 
so willingly pardoned my ignorance and my mistakes, 
the country where my children were born and where I 
had received kindness greater than words can express—' 
this wonderful, busy, practical country had no need of, 
nor did it want, anything that- I could give. It had-, 
been a broad, kindly, loving home for me and mine, but a 
place for the present only. It held no promise of useful- 
ness for my growing children and had no need of my old 
age. And what is life if one can only learn, and of what 
one learns give nothing ? 

The past years were like a dream. From a land of 
misty, poetic ideas I had drifted through a puzzling tangle 
of practical deeds, gathering valuable thoughts as I floated 
easily along, and now — back to the land of mist and poesy. 
What was ahead of me? I wondered. 



240 A DAUGHTER OF THE SAMURAI^^^^ 

proud we all were to have two little Japanese girls in our 
home, and so brought a slow comfort to the disappointed 
little heart. 

That afternoon Mother saw Hanano sitting a long 
time very quietly in front of the big mirror that stood 
between the two front windows of the parlour. 

“What is it you see, dear?” Mother asked. 

“I s’pose I’m a Japanese girl, too,” Hanano answered 
slowly, “I don’t look like Susan or Alice.” 

She winked several times very fast, then, with a choking 
gulp, her loyalty to blue eyes and yellow hair sucfcumbed 
to loyalty to love, and she added, “But Mamma is pretty! 
I’m going to be like her I” and climbed down from the chair. 

No one can sound the depths of a child’s thoughts, but 
from that day Hanano developed an interest in Japanese 
things. Matsuo was fond of listening to her prattle and 
of playing with her, but she depended upon me for stories; 
and so, night after night, I would talk of our heroes and 
repeat to her the songs and fairy lore which had been part 
of my child life. Best of all she liked to have me talk of 
the pretty black-haired children— I always said they were 
pretty — ^who made chains of cherry blossoms or played 
games in a garden with a stone lantern and a curving 
bridge that spanned a pond set in the midst of flowers 
and tiny trees. I almost grew homesick as I painted 
these word pictures for her, or sat in the twilight singing a 
plaintive Japanese lullaby to the baby, while Hanano 
stood beside me, humming softly beneath her breath. 

Was this sudden love for the land she had never seen an 
inheritance, or — for children sometimes seem to be un- 
cannily endowed with insight — ^was it premonition? 

One day the old familiar world ended for me, leaving 
me with memories — comforting ones and regretful ones — 
all closely wrapped in a whirl of anxious, frightened ques- 
tioning, for no longer had I a husband or my children a 



CHIYO 


:24I 

father. Matsiio, with a last -merry word' and .a sleepy' 
smile^ had quickly and painlessly slipped over, the border 
into the old-new country beyond our ken. 

. ' And now, for my children and myself, nothing was left 
but farewells and a long, lonely journey.. The country 
that had reached out so pleasant a welcome to me, that had 
so : willingly pardoned my ignorance ' and my mistakes, 
the country where my children were born and where' I 
had received kindness greater than words can express— 
this wonderful, busy, practical country had no need of, 
nor did it want, anything that I could give. It had 
been a broad, kindly, loving home for me and mine, but a 
place for the present only. It held no promise of useful- 
ness for my growing children and had no need of my old 
age. And what is life if one can only learn, and of what 
one learns give nothing? 

The past years were like a dream. From a land of 
misty, poetic ideas I had drifted through a puzzling tangle 
of practical deeds, gathering valuable thoughts as I floated 
easily along, and now — back to the land of mist and poesy« 
What was ahead of me? I wondered. 


CHAPTER XXIV 


IN JAPAN AGAIN 

T^HEN the weary sight of tumbling and tossing 
■y^^.yes was past and I was once again in Japan, I 
found myself in the midst of surroundings almost as strange 
as those I had met when I landed in America. 

The provinces and classes in Japan had for so many 
centuries held steadfast, each to its own customs, that 
even yet there were only occasional evidences to be seen 
of their slow yielding to the equalizing influences of modern 
life; and I had gone at once to Matsuo's home in western 
Japan, where standards of dress and etiquette, ideals, and 
even idioms of speech were entirely different from those 
of either Nagaoka or Tokyo. 

We were met on our arrival by a crowd of Matsuo's 
relatives, all in ceremonial dress, for we had brought the 
sacred ashes with us; and from then until the forty-nine 
days of ceremonies for the dead were over, I was treated 
as an honoured messenger-guest. After that my position 
was very humble, for a son's widow is an unimportant 
person in Japan, and, virtually, that is what I was, Matsuo 
having been, until he decided to remain in America, the 
adopted son of Uncle Otani. 

I was very anxious about my little girls; for in Japan 
children belong to the family — not to the parents. 
Hanaiio, on the death of her father, had become the head 
of our little family, but we were only a branch of the main 
family of which Uncle Otani was the head. So it had 
been taken for granted by all relatives, my own as well as 

242 




IN JAPAN AGAIN 243 

Matsuo^s, that the children and I would make our home 
with Uncle Otani. ■ He would have made room for me. in 
his handsome; house' and would have^ supplied me with 
beautiful clothes, but I should have had no authority, 
even over my own children. This might not have been $0 
bad under some circumstances; for Uncle Otani would have 
been generous in giving the children every advantage that 
he considered proper for them to have. But with all his 
kindness — and a kinder man never lived — -I could not 
forget that he belonged to the old-fashioned merchant 
class that considered education beyond the grammar 
school undesirable for girls. 

The situation was difficult; for, from my humble posi- 
tion, I could not say a word. But I had one hope. Ha- 
nano, although legal head of our family, was a minor; 
and her mother, as present regent, held a certain power. 
Exerting this, I asked for a consultation with Uncle 
Otani. I explained to him that Matsuo had expressed in 
his will a desire that, since he had no son, his daughters 
should receive the liberal education that had been planned 
for them in America. Then I boldly asked, in Hanano^s 
name and by the power of her father’s request, that I 
should be allowed the privilege of guiding their studies. 

Uncle Otani was astonished at such an unheard-of re- 
quest, but the situation was unusual and a family council 
was summoned at once. In the case of a consultation 
concerning a widow, it is customary for her family to be 
represented; and Brother being unable to be present, 
Mother sent in his place my progressive Tokyo uncle- — 
the one who had taken so vigorous a part in our council 
meetings before my marriage. It was necessary for 
Hanano, as official head of her family, to be present, but 
of course she was to speak only through me. 

Since she had not yet learned to wear Japanese dress 
properly, I put on her best white dress, trimmed with lace 


CHAPTER XXIV 


IN JAPAN AGAIN 

W HEN the weary sight of tumbling and tossing 
waves was past and I was once again in Japan, I 
found myself in the midst of surroundings almost as strange 
as those I had met when I landed in America. 

The provinces and classes in Japan had for so many 
centuries ■ held ' steadfast, each to its own customs, ' that 
even yet there were only occasional evidences to be seen 
of their slow yielding to the equalizing influences of modern 
life; and I had gone at once to Matsuo's home in western 
Japan, where standards of dress and etiquette, ideals, and 
even idioms of speech were entirely different from those 
of either Nagaoka or Tokyo. 

We were met on our arrival by a crowd of Matsuo's 
relatives, all in ceremonial dress, for we had brought the 
:sacred-ashes. with' us; and from then until the forty-nine 
days of ceremonies for the dead were over, I was treated 
as an honoured messenger-guest. After that my position 
was very humble, for a son's widow is an unimportant 
person: in Japan, and, virtually, that is what I was, Matsuo, 
having been, until he decided to remain in America, the 
adopted son of Uncle Otani. 

I was very anxious about my little girls; for in Japan 
'Children' ■ b to the family — not, to the parents.,; 
Hanano, on the death of her father, had become the head 
:of our little family, but we were only a. branch of the main: 
family of which Uncle Otani was the head. So it had 
been taken for granted by all relatives, my own as well as 

242 




243 


IN JAPAN AGAIN 

Matsuo^s, that the children and I would make our home 
with Uncle Gtani. He would have made room for me in 
his handsome house and would have supplied me with 
beautiful clothes^ but I should have had no authority, 
even over my own children. This might not have been so 
bad under some circumstances; for Uncle Otani wwld have 
been generous in giving the children every advantage that 
he considered proper for them to have. But with all his 
kindness — and a kinder man never lived — I could not 
forget that he belonged to the old-fashioned merchant 
class that considered education beyond the grammar 
school undesirable for girls. 

The situation was difficult; for, from my humble posi- 
tion, I could not say a word. But I had one hope. Ha- 
nano, although legal head of our family, was a minor; 
and her mother, as present regent, held a certain power. 
Exerting this, I asked for a consultation with Uncle 
Otani. I explained to him that Matsuo had expressed in 
his will a desire that, since he had no son, his daughters 
should receive the liberal education that had been planned 
for them in America. Then I boldly asked, in Hanano^s 
name and by the power of her father's request, that I 
should be allowed the privilege of guiding their studies. 

Uncle Otani was astonished at such an unheard-of re- 
quest, but the situation was unusual and a family council 
was summoned at once. In the case of a consultation 
concerning a widow, it is customary for her family to be 
represented; and Brother being unable to be present, 
Mother sent in his place my progressive Tokyo uncle — 
the one who had taken so vigorous a part in our council 
meetings before my marriage. It was necessary for 
Hanano, as official head of her family, to be present, but 
of course she was to speak only through me. 

Since she had not yet learned to wear Japanese dress 
properly, I put on her best white dress, trimmed with lace 



244 A DAUGHTER OF THE SAMURAI 

and ruffles. I arranged everything so that it would be 
very loose; for it is difficult to sit quietly in Japanese 
fashion while wearing American clothing, and yet it is 
inexcusably rude at a ceremonial gathering to move— 
however slightly — the lower part of the body. I explained 
this to Hanano, and told her how her grandfather, when 
two years younger than she, had held the seat of state in 
the formidable political meetings before the Restoration. 
“Honourable Grandmother told me he always sat very 
straight and was dignified,” I said, “and you must be like 
him.” Then we went in to the meeting. 

1 could not help being uneasy about the way my bold 
request might be received. To most of the council I was 
nothing but a widowed dependant of my daughter — a 
woman with advanced and peculiar notions— and they had 
the power, if three voices of the council disapproved of me 
and my ideas, not only to refuse my request, but to 
separate me from my children entirely. I should be well 
provided for, in my present home, if I chose, or elsewhere, 
but the children would remain with their father’s people; 
and no law of Heaven or earth was powerful enough in 
Japan to prevent it. Matsuo’s family had no desire to do 
any unjust thing; nor did I suspect that they had, but — 
they held the power. 

The conference, which was long, consisted of a series of 
polite suggestions and earnest, but never excited, argu- 
ments. I listened with my head bowed, occasionally — 
but not too often — glancing toward my little anxious- 
eyed daughter, sitting erect and motionless in the midst 
of the dignified row of elders. For two hours she did not 
move. Then one poor, cramped little leg jerked, her 
fluffy dress spread out, and with a quick catching at her 
knee, she gasped, “Oh !” 

Not a face turned toward her, but with an anguished 
clutch in my throat I bowed to the floor, saying. “I 



,. ;.IN JAMN AGAIN"/ 'v:;;;; 

humbly pray the honourable council to. pardon the rude- 
ness of my foreign-trained child, and permit her to retire 
with me from the august assembly.” 

, , Uncle Otani, without moving, gave a grunt of assent. ^ ■ 

. ' As I made my last bow at the sliding door and ' slipped 
it back in place, my Tokyo uncle tapped his pipe carefully 
against the rim of the tobacco box by his side. 

‘^'It is fortunate that 0 Etsu San seems a reliable wo- 
man,” he said slowly; ^Tor surely it would be a puzzling 
venture for any of us to take into our family two rough 
American children with their untrained feet, their flounc- 
ing garments, and their abrupt speech.” 

Whether that remark was intended to be kind or cruel, 
I never knew; and whether or not it had influence, I never 
knew; but after another hour of slow, careful, earnest, and 
perfectly fair discussion, the council decided that on ac- 
count of Matsuo^s request, combined with the fact that 
his widow appeared to be a trustworthy person, consent 
was given to a temporary trial of the experiment. 

That night I pulled my cushions in betw’een my chil- 
dren's beds — close, close — and crept beneath the covers, 
faint with relief and gratitude. 



CHAPTER XXV 


OUR TOKYO HOME 

A FEW weeks later the children and I, with capable 
little Sudzu in the kitchen, were settled in a pretty- 
home in Tokyo, The arrangement with Matsuo^s family 
was that some one of the relatives would visit us at inter- 
vals to see that everything was satisfactory; and that I was 
to consult the council about every new, even trifling, 
problem which might arise. 

I was chained — but I was content. 

My relatives in Nagaoka were much concerned over my 
peculiar position; and Mother, because it would be undig- 
nified for a young widow to be alone, decided to come and 
live with us. Not being able, however, to make im- 
mediate arrangements, she sent Taki, who was now a 
widow, and who, because her father and her grandfather 
had served in our family, had claimed the right to return 
to Mother and calmly settle herself as a member of the 
household. When she came to Tokyo she at once as- 
sumed the combined responsibilities of chaperon, house- 
keeper, cook, seamstress, and commander-general of us 
all — ^including Sudzu. 

In less than three days Taki had discovered the best 
fish-shop ill the neighbourhood; and in less than a week 
all second-rate vegetable venders and fruit peddlers went 
trotting by our kitchen door, holding their swinging bas- 
kets away from the keen eyes of our countrywoman who 
knew so well when the first blush of freshness was gone. 
From the first I relied entirely upon Taki’s judgment. 

24.6 ■ ' ■ ■ 



OUR TOKYO HOME 


247 


Nevertheless, I had some annoying experiences, for to her 
heart I was still little Etsu-bo Sama, although her lips 
acknowledged that I had reached the dignified position 
of “Oku Sama” — Honourable Mistress- — and although I 
had acquired some wonderful ideas and possessed two 
astonishingly active children, who dressed queerly and 
talked too loud. 

My troubles began the very first night. After Taki 
had closed the outside gates and fastened the front and 
kitchen doors I heard her sliding the wooden panels which 
ran along the outer edge of the porch overlooking the gar- 
den. These were for protection in stormy weather and 
to keep us safe at night, but when closed they shut out the 
air completely. 

“Don’t close the, amadoes tight, Taki,” I called. “Leave 
a little space between them. We need fresh air for the 
rooms.’' 

“Maa! Maa!” cried Taki, with profound astonishment 
in her voice. “You left your home when you had but 
little learning, Oku Sama. Air without the smile of the 
august Sun goddess has poison in it.” 

“But, Taki,” I protested, “this is like a foreign house. 
It has gas for the heaters, and we need outside air, even 
at night.” 

She hesitated, evidently much distressed. 

“It may be that air in the honourable foreign house is 
different,” she muttered, “but it seems peculiar — pe- 
culiar. And besides, it is not safe in a great city where 
burglars live.” 

She walked away shaking her head and grumbling to 
herself. Feeling that I had established my authority, I 
went to bed, only to be awakened by a stealthy, intermit- 
tent rumbling, which presently ended in a muffled snap as 
Taki pushed in the wooden bolt of the last panel. 

“Well,” I said to myself, half provoked, half amused. 



248 A DAUGHTER OF THE SAMURAI 

“Taki always had her own way, even with the jailer of 
Nagaoka prison. So what could I expect!” 

Like many Japanese women of the working class, Taki 
had been obliged to take a large share of the burden of 
livelihood on her own shoulders. Her husband was a 
kind man and a good workman, but he drank too much 
sake, and that meant not only a mysterious slipping away 
of wages, but frequent imprisonment for debt. 

Whenever this happened Taki came to our home, and 
Mother would give her employment until she had saved 
enough to set her husband free. One day while she was 
working for us, my older sister went out with her on an 
errand. Just beyond the gate they saw two men ap- 
proaching. One was a well-dressed man, his head covered 
with the basket mask worn by all prisoners outside the 
walls. Sister said that Taki stood still, watching the 
men suspiciously, and did not seem surprised when they 
stopped. 

The officer bowed and said pleasantly: “Only three yen 
is due now. Pay that and he is free.” 

“Oh, please, Mr. Officer,” exclaimed Taki in great dis- 
tress, “please keep him just a few weeks longer. Then I 
shall have all the debts paid and a little start for the next 
time. Please keep him just a little longer. Please!” 

The husband, poor man, stood meekly by while his 
wife and the officer argued, but Taki stubbornly refused 
to pay the three yen, and the officer walked away with his 
basket-headed prisoner. Taki stood looking after them, 
triumphant. But a few moments later she pulled a fold of 
paper from her sash and, wiping her eyes, sniffed a few 
times and said: “Come, little Mistress; we have wasted 
much time. We must hurry!” 

I said nothing more about not closing the amadoes, but 
several days later I had a carpenter put up a wide, open- 
work strip of carved iris— the flower of health— between 



OUR TOKYO HOME 


249, 

the eaves^and the:top of the- panels.. At mtervals .were 
inserted iron bars run through the, hollow tubes .of bam- 
boo. 'Yhus we were safe in every way; for not enough, 
poison air could filter through the health-giving blossoms 
of the carving to injure us, even in the opinion of our good, 
fanatical Taki. 

The children surprised me by the readiness wdth which 
they accepted conditions in this strange land. Hanano,' 
from babyhood, had been attracted by new things, and I 
concluded that our life of constant change had kept her 
from homesickness. And three-year-old Chiyo — ^who had 
always been a contented little thing — seemed so happy in 
the unbroken companionship of her sister that I did not 
realize the possibility of her having opinions and desires 
of her own. While we were visiting she expected strange 
things, but when we reached a place that I called ^^home^^ 
and she found her clothing arranged in drawers and her 
playthings put where she could get them, she began to miss 
many things. 

Mamma, she said one day, coming up and leaning 
against my shoulder as I sat sewing, Chiyo wants 

‘What does Chiyo want?’’ I asked. 

She took my hand and led me slowly through our six 
tiny rooms. White mats were on ail the floors except the 
kitchen. In the parlour alcove hung a roll picture with a 
flower arrangement on the polished platform beneath. 
A small upright piano stood in one corner. Sliding doors 
of silk separated the parlour from my own and the chil- 
dren’s^ rooms, side by side, just beyond. In both, stand- 
ing against the tan-coloured plaster wall, were whitewood 
chests of drawers with ornamental iron handles. My desk 
and Hanano’s, both low white tables with books and pen- 
stands on top, were so placed that, when the paper sliding 
doors were pushed back, we could see across the narrow 
porch into our pretty little;, garden with its well-trimmed 



250 A DAUGHTER OF THE SAMURAI 

shrubbery, its curved path of stepping-stones, and its 
small lake with nine darting gold-fish. 

The dining room, at right angles to our rooms, over- 
looked the garden, too. It was the sunniest room in the 
house. The closets were hidden by sliding doors covered 
with tan-coloured tapestry, and the long, square-cornered 
fire-box with drawers — ^the invariable adjunct of every 
dining room in Japan— was a handsome one of white 
birch. On one side was always a cushion, ready any 
moment for the mistress when she came to talk over 
house matters with the maid, called from the kitchen just 
behind another tan-coloured door which looked a part of 
the wall. The bathroom, Taki^s and Sudzu^s room, and 
the servants’ entrance, were just beyond. Our own 
^^shoe-ofF place” and entrance hall were in front, opening 
toward the big wooden gates with the "^^cameFs-eye door” 
in one of them. 

From room to room Ghiyo led me, stopping in each and 
pointing aimlessly here and there. ^'‘Chiyo wants— — ” 
she repeated, but her wants were so many that she had no 
words. The emptiness, which I loved, oppressed her. 
She longed for the big canopy beds of Mother’s home, for 
the deep-cushioned chairs, the large mirrors, the big 
square piano, the flowered carpets and the windows cur- 
tained with kce, the high ceilings, the wide rooms, the 
spaciousness! I looked at the wistful little face and my 
heart smote me. But when she pulled my sleeve and, 
burying her face in the folds of my dress, said piteously, 
'^Oh, Mamma, take me home to Grandma and Papa’s pic- 
ture! Please! Please!” I caught her in my arms and, 
sinking to the floor, hugged her close and, for the first 
time since I could remember, I sobbed aloud. 

But this must not last. Where was my samurai blood? 
Where my childhood training? Had my years of un- 
restrained freedom in America weakened my character and 



OUR TOKYO HOME 251 

taken away my courage? My honourable fatIier :W 
be shamed. ^ ■ 

^^Come, Little Daughter/^ I said, choking and laughing 
together, /^Chiyo has shown Mamma what' we ha¥e not in 
our new house; now Mamma will show ChiyO' what we 
have/" 

So, gaily we went over the. same road. In the parlour 
I pushed back the low silk doors beneath the moon 
window, and we saw two deep shelves in which were neatly 
arranged all of Hanano’s and Chiyo"s pretty, books from: 
America. I pointed to the wonderful panel over the doors 
— -a broad, thin slab of wood, strangely delicate and beau- 
tiful — carved by unknown years of dashing waves into its 
odd, inimitable pattern. I showed her the post of the 
alcove: only the scaled and twisted trunk of a 'forest pine, 
yet so polished that it looked as if it were enclosed in crystal. 
We looked at the rich, dark wood of the alcove ioor, ‘'‘as 
smooth and shining as Grandma"s mirrors in the big par- 
lour at home,"" I told her,, and she bent over to see the 
reiection of a grave little face,- changing, as she lookedy: 
into .one with a twisty smile. In another room I opened 
.'the tiny door of our unused shrine. Within the dainty: 
carved interior stood her father’s picture, 'fram'ed:^ m 
America, v/hich was to hang over the piano when the 
carpenter could come to put it up. I showed her the big 
closets where our bed cushions slept in the daytime, gather- 
ing, in their silken flowers, talk, music, and laughter to 
weave into pleasant dreams for her to find hidden in her 
pillow 'at night, I gently opened the wee mountain of 
ashes in the dining-room fire-box so that: she .could: see : the 
softly glowing charcoal, always waiting with warmth and 
comfort for any one who wanted', a sip ef tea,/ : 
peep into the tiny drawers— one for small rice-cakes of 
pink and white, in case a child should come to visit, one 
for extra chopsticks, and one for a tiny can of tea with its 



z 52 a daughter of THE SAMURAI 

broad wooden spoon near by. But the big, broad drawer 
at the bottom — Oh, dear! Oh, dear!— we didn’t need at 
all. That was made for some old-fashioned grandmother 
who sometimes, after she had told a fairy story to her 
little grandchild, would reach in for a long, slender pipe 
with a silver thimble for a bowl. After three whiffs she 
would tap it on the edge of the box — ^just here — three 
times, tap-tap-tap, and then put it away with its fragrant 
silken bag (sniff, sniff! — poof, poof! Mamma doesn’t like !) 
to wait for another time of meditation or loneliness, or per- 
haps for an hour when another dear old grandmother might 
chance to call. Then there would be three more whiffs, 
or perhaps double three, while the two grandmothers 
sipped their tea and talked in gentle voices of olden time. 

“And here is where Sudzu keeps the boats of the food 
fairies,” I said, “all waiting for their burden of good things 
to eat.” 

I pushed back one of the panels which didn’t look at all 
like a door, and we peeped into a closet of many shallow 
shelves, on which, in piles of five, were wooden bowls for 
soup, china bowls for rice, oval plates for fish, deep ones 
for pickles, and many plates and cups and dishes, each 
shaped for a special purpose and each decoration telling 
a story of old Japan. Below were our lacquer tables, 
each a foot square and a foot high; and piled up, a little 
distance away, were our cushions, 

“Just One and Two and Three, 

For She and Her and Me!” 

as Hanano sang when Sudzu brought them out for meals. 

“And now the kitchen,” I went on. “This door doesn’t 
slide, but opens by turning a little bronze pine-cone. Step 
into these sandals, Chiyo; for no one goes into the kitchen 
with only foot mittens on— or stockings. Here we are! 
One half the floor is of smooth, dark boards, you see, and 



OUR TOKYO HOME 


:2S3:, 

the, other Ealf — step down!— of' cement.. , There is:; the gas 
taiige^' and, close beside it' a pottery, fire-box 'for the .big 
swelling rice-kettle with its heavy, wooden top. No: bit of 
waste-paper or scrap of any kind must be thrown on that 
fire; only straw to start it and charcoal to continue it, for it 
is. used just to cook rice — the staff of life for Japan — and 
we must treat it with respect. Here comes Taki; and "' now 
she^ will show us something, little Chiyo, that will make 
you want to run to the big box that smells all campliory, 
like the forest near Uncle Otani’s house, and get out the for 
collar that Grandma gave you last Christm^as Day. . See F’ 

Taki Stuck two fingers in two little holes in one of the 
narrow boards of the floor and lifted it; then another, and 
another. Next, up came a light, broad square of white- 
wood, and there, within easy reach of Taki’s hand, was a 
small cellar where was a block of ice, roughly cut in shelves, 
on which were set wooden plates of fish and vegetables, 
eggs and fruit. 

^^That is what becomes of the cold, cold bundle the man 
brings every morning in the straw saddle on his back,’’ I 
said, ^^And there is Taki’s wooden sink, standing high 
up from the cement part of the floor, just like a table with 
legs made of water-pipes. 

^^Now, turn to the right. Down the narrow little hall 
we go — five steps of mine and eight of yours — and here 
we are in the bathroom. The oval whitewood tub, with 
its two faucets above and little row of gaslights below, is 
so deep that even Mamma can kneel with the water up to 
her dun. Here are the three little shelves for our bran- 
bag, cup, and toothbrush, each with a carved towel-hanger 
below; and over in the corner is a big bamboo basket for 
laundry and a coil of hose to water the garden. Oh, it’s 
a very interesting little house, Chiyo; just like a big play- 
house, with Mamma at home all the time to play with you 
when Hanano has gone to school.’^ 


CHAPTER XXVI 


TRAGIC TRIFLES 

M y finding a suitable school for Chiyo almost at 
once was a piece of good fortune. Not far from 
our house there lived a gifted educator who was interested 
in modern methods of teaching young children. He and 
his wife had in their home a small model kindergarten, 
to which I was given the privilege of sending my little girl. 
Chiyo could not speak Japanese, but fortunately there were 
in the class two children of an American missionary, who 
spoke the language well, so the little Japanese-born Ameri- 
cans became kind interpreters to the little American- 
born Japanese; thus forming an international combination 
that resulted, on one side at least, in a lifetime remem- 
brance of grateful friendliness. 

But Hanano’s education was a problem. In selecting 
a school for her the remembrance of my own happy school 
life in Tokyo naturally influenced me in favour of a mission 
school; but, after careful examination, I concluded that, 
although the atmosphere of the mission schools was un- 
questionably superior, they could not compete with the 
government schools in scholarship. Therefore I decided 
upon a public school, the principal of which was reputed 
to be one of the best in Tokyo, and which, fortunately, 
was not far from our home. Of this I knew Matsuo’s 
relatives would approve. 

Hanano’s knowledge of the Japanese language was 
meagre, but of the history, literature, and traditions of 



TRAGIC TRIFLES 


255 

Japan, she knew almost as much as other children her age, 
and so was too advanced for the primary class. 

It was a puzzle for the authorities to know what to do 
with her; for rules in Japan are not flexible. Official life 
still moves in grooves, and in a minor officer, the old feudal 
pride in rigid faithfulness is frequently so extreme that to 
be jostled out of the established line is hopelessly discon- 
certing. Time and again I heard with a sinking heart 
that no place could be found for Hanano in any class, but 
— I did not dare fail! Patiently I persisted, arguing that, 
since Japan claims her foreign-born children, and also has 
the rule of compulsory education, surely something could 
be done. 

Well, I had a world of trouble and felt as if the child 
Were being wound closer each day in a red-tape cocoon, 
but at last she was admitted into the third grade and I 
given permission to sit in the rear of the room, a silent 
spectator with a notebook. 

I shall never forget those first days. Hanano was 
naturally quick and observing and already familiar with 
third-grade studies; but the ideographs were wholly un- 
known to her, and she could understand very little of the 
teacher’s explanations. Again and again I would see her 
face light up with an expression of alert attention, which 
the next moment would change to a puzzled look and then 
gradually settle into one of blank hopelessness. Every 
evening our home was turned into a schoolroom, where I 
went over each lesson of the day, translating and explain- 
ing in English. At odd hours, even during meal-time, we 
played games in which words were limited to those in 
common use, and whenever Hanano heard Taki bargaining 
with vendors at the kitchen door, she was immediately at 
her elbow. But I think her greatest help from any one 
thing came from the playground at school. There she 
was a delightful curiosity. She took part in all games, 


2s6 a daughter of the samurai 

running, gesticulating, and chattering in English, while 
the others ran, gesticulated, and chattered in Japanese, 
all having a good time, and Hanano piling up, by the 
dozen, unforgettable words which carried their own defi- 
nitions too clearly to need interpretation. 

I was faithful in my reports to Uncle Otani, and, on the 
whole, rather enjoyed the "‘investigation visits” of the 
relatives; but my being required to ask council advice 
before making a change, however slight, in my programme, 
was often very trying and useless. Formally to request an 
opinion regarding which of two studies to select for 
Hanano, when not a member of the council knew or 
cared to learn anything of her former school work, and 
every single member considered both of the suggested 
studies entirely unnecessary for a girl to waste her time 
over, was absurd. But I was conscientious to the mi- 
nutest degree, and as time passed the visits from relatives 
became less frequent and more friendly; and my requests 
were mostly returned with orders to use my own judgment. 

When Hanano reached the stage where she began to 
recognize characters on the street signs and to listen in- 
telligently to conversation going on about her, I gave up 
my visits to the school and turned my attention to home 
duties. Here I found many problems. Some were seem- 
ingly too small to be noticed, and yet, like stinging gnat 
bites, extremely annoying. I had thought it would be 
well to keep the children in American clothing. They 
had a goodly supply, and progressive families were begin- 
ning to advocate it for children, except for formsil use. 
As the weather grew colder I put heavy underclothes and 
woollen stockings on them; for the schoolrooms were 
heated only with two charcoal fire-boxes in each large 
room. But, notwithstanding my care, one day Chiyo 
came home with a cold. The next morning was chilly 
and damp. I had no heart to keep her from her greatest 



TRAGIC TRIFLES 


257 

enjoyment; yet to risk her taking more cold was out of the 
question. What could I do? Suddenly I had a wicked 
inspiration. She had a coat of soft woollen goods which 
covered her dress completely. I put it on, buttoned it 
up close and, telling her not to take it olF, sent her on her 
way. 

Then I sat down to have it out with my conscience. In 
Japan, when one enters a house, the shoes, wrap, and hat 
are removed. It was as unpardonable for Chiyo to keep 
on her wrap in school as if it had been her hat; but I knew 
that, in the eyes of the teacher, the pretty red coat with its 
lace collar and cuffs would be only a foreign dress, no more 
suggesting a wrap than did her usual clothing. And to 
think that I had taken advantage of the ignorance of the 
teacher and done this deceitful thing! I thought of Kishi- 
bo-jin and wondered if in every mother’s heart is hidden 
an unborn demon. 

Presently, with a sigh, I rose to my feet and prepared 
to go out. As I approached the mirror to arrange my hair 
I stopped with a half-ashamed laugh. For one instant a 
superstitious hesitation had held me back, as if I might see 
in the reflected face a hint of the deceit in my heart. 

I went direct to the nearest shop and purchased material 
for a hifu — a loose but proper and elegant house-garment, 
which in winter is padded with the cobwebby cut silk 
taken from empty cocoons. It is the lightest and warmest 
garment in Japan. Taki, Sudzu, and I sewed all day, and 
the next morning Chiyo went happily to school with her 
hifu over her American dress. 

It was this incident that decided me to change the 
children from American to Japanese clothing. 

There is another link, less tragic, in the chain of my 
memories of growing adaptability. When riding in jin- 
rikishas it is the custom for the honoured person to go first. 
Therefore a child should follow a parent. But I never felt 



2S6 a daughter of the samurai 

running, gesticulating, and chattering in English, while 
the others ran, gesticulated, and chattered in Japanese, 
all having a good time, and Hanano piling up, by the 
dozen, unforgettable words which carried their own defi- 
nitions too clearly to need interpretation. 

I was faithful in my reports to Uncle Otani, and, on the 
whole, rather enjoyed the “investigation visits” of the 
relatives; but my being required to ask council advice 
before making a change, however slight, in my programme, 
was often very trying and useless. Formally to request an 
opinion regarding which of two studies to select for 
Hanano, when not a member of the council knew or 
cared to learn anything of her former school work, and 
every single member considered both of the suggested 
studies entirely unnecessary for a girl to waste her time 
over, was absurd. But I was conscientious to the mi- 
nutest degree, and as time passed the visits from relatives 
became less frequent and more friendly; and my requests 
were mostly returned with orders to use my own judgment. 

When Hanano reached the stage where she began to 
recognize characters on the street signs and to listen in- 
telligently to conversation going on about her, I gave up 
my visits to the school and turned my attention to home 
duties. Here I found many problems. Some were seem- 
ingly too small to be noticed, and yet, like stinging gnat 
bites, extremely annoying. I had thought it would be 
well to keep the children in American clothing. They 
had a goodly supply, and progressive families were begin- 
ning to advocate it for children, except for formal use. 
As the weather grew colder I put heavy underclothes and 
woollen stockings on them; for the schoolrooms were 
heated only with two charcoal fire-boxes in each large 
room. But, notwithstanding my care, one day Chiyo 
came home with a cold. The next morning was chilly 
and damp. I had no heart to keep her from her greatest 



TRAGIC TRIFLES 


H7 

enjoyment; yet to risk her taking more cold was out of the 
question. What could I do? Suddenly I had a wicked 
inspiration. She had a coat of soft woollen goods which 
covered her dress completely. I put it on, buttoned it 
up close and, telling her not to take it olF, sent her on her 
way. 

Then I sat down to have it out with my conscience. In 
Japan, when one enters a house, the shoes, wrap, and hat 
are removed. It was as unpardonable for Chiyo to keep 
on her wrap in school as if it had been her hat; but I knew 
that, in the eyes of the teacher, the pretty red coat with its 
lace collar and cuffs would be only a foreign dress, no more 
suggesting a wrap than did her usual clothing. And to 
think that I had taken advantage of the ignorance of the 
teacher and done this deceitful thing! I thought of Kishi- 
bo-jin and wondered if in every mother’s heart is hidden 
an unborn demon. 

Presently, with a sigh, I rose to my feet and prepared 
to go out. As I approached the mirror to arrange my hair 
I stopped with a half-ashamed laugh. For one instant a 
superstitious hesitation had held me back, as if I might see 
in the reflected face a hint of the deceit in my heart. 

I went direct to the nearest shop and purchased material 
for a hifu — a loose but proper and elegant house-garment, 
which in winter is padded with the cobwebby cut silk 
taken from empty cocoons. It is the lightest and warmest 
garment in Japan. Taki, Sudzu, and I sewed all day, and 
the next morning Chiyo went happily to school with her 
over her American dress. 

It was this incident that decided me to change the 
children from American to Japanese clothing. 

There is another link, less tragic, in the chain of my 
memories of growing adaptability. When riding in jin- 
rikishas it is the custom for the honoured person to go first. 
Therefore a child should follow a parent. But I never felt 


258 A DAUGHTER OF THE SAMURAI 

sure that some unexpected thing might not happen to my 
active little ones; so I always put them together in one 
jinrikisha just ahead of me. One day, as we were passing 
through a busy street, I saw Hanano looking back and 
waving frantically; almost standing up in her eagerness 
to have me see a small table and two chairs of bamboo in a 
shop window. Both children pleaded for me to buy them. 
It was nonsense to take them to our pretty home; for 
chair legs ruin the soft mats, and foreign furniture is 
wholly inartistic in a Japanese room. But the children 
looked at them so longingly that I made the purchase, 
ordering thin strips of wood to be fastened on the feet 
to make a flat foundation that would not injure our floor. 
They were to be delivered the next day. 

Early the following morning I went shopping, returning 
home about noon. What was my astonishment when I 
entered the house to see the bamboo table in the centre of 
the parlour and on each side of it a chair, with Hanano 
seated on one and Chiyo on the other! They had no 
books, no toys. Sudzu said they had been there for an 
hour, occasionally changing places, but otherwise sitting 
still or talking in low voices. 

“What are you doing, children,” I asked, “sitting here 
so quiet?” 

“Oh, just enjoying!” replied Hanano. 

After a moment Chiyo said: “Grandma’s chairs are 
soft, but this one has knobs on the edge. Let’s swap 
again, Hanano.” 

Then there was the affair of the bedclothes. The pride of 
a Japanese housewife is to have not only dainty and pretty, 
but also appropriate, bed cushions. Mother had sent with 
Taki enough silk and linen for both children’s beds. The 
pattern for Hanano’s was, for her flower-name, the 
“ Flowers of the Four Seasons,” in which bunches of many- 
coloured blossoms were scattered loosely over a back- 



TRAGIC TRIFLES 


m 

ground of shadowy pink. Chiyo’s — for her name, which 
means “Long Life” — ^was a flock of white storks flying 
across a blue sky with floating clouds. Taki and Sudzu 
had sewed steadily for several days making the cushions, 
so, on the night they were finished, and when Sudzu had 
made up the beds side by side, I told the girls that I would 
put the children to bed and they could go out to a street 
fair held on the temple grounds, not far away. In the 
midst of the undressing some friends came to call and I 
left the children to finish alone. 

My friends stayed late. I heard Taki and Sudzu come 
in, and a short time later there was a disturbance in the 
children’s room. Hanano’s voice sounded clear and loud 
in English, “It isn’t fair! Stop! It isn’t fair!” Then 
came a low murmuring in Japanese— sleepy complaints — 
a soft scrambling— a gentle, “Pardon my disturbing you. 
Honourable good-night!” — a sliding door, whisperings, 
and presently — silence. 

As soon as the guests had gone I hurried into the 
children’s room. Both were sleeping quietly. I waited 
for Sudzu to come in after locking the gate, and then I 
learned what had happened. Faithful Taki, on her return, 
had peeped into the children’s room to see that all was 
safe, and behold! the “Flower in a Strange Land” was 
asleep beneath the flying storks and the long-life lassie was 
peacefully reposing beneath the scattered blossoms of the 
four seasons. Taki’s orderly habits of a lifetime had 
sprung to the rescue of an upset world. Pulling off the 
covers with a jerk, she had lifted Hanano in her strong 
arms, and then, standing the startled child upright, had 
caught Chiyo and plumped her into Hanano’s bed, mut- 
tering constantly, “Ignorant children! Ignorant chil- 
dren!” Paying no attention to Hanano’s indignant 
protests that they had changed purposely, “just to swap,” 
she had tossed her back into bed, whirled up the covers, 


26 o a daughter of THE SAMURAI 


and then, politely bowing good-night, had softly pushed 
the doors together and retired as gently as if she feared 
to awake a sleeping child. 

“Taki is just like she used to be,” I thought as I lay 
down on my own bed with a laugh. “People who think 
Japanese women are always gentle ought to widen their 
acquaintance.” 

But one thing about which I have never laughed was a 
peep I had into a hidden part of my children’s lives. 
Hanano always had been brave about bearing silently 
little troubles that could not be helped, and she seemed so 
busy and interested in her new life that I did not realize 
that deep in her heart was a longing for the old home. 
Our garden had two entrances, one through the house and 
one through a little brushwood wicket on the path that 
led from a wooden gate to the kitchen door. One day, 
just as I reached home, a sudden shower threatened to 
drench me. So, instead of going around to the big gate- 
way, I slipped through the wooden gate, and ran across 
the stones of the garden to the porch. Leaving my shoes 
on the step I was hurrying to my room when I heard the 
voices of the children. 

“This shady place,” said Hanano, “is where Grandma’s 
chair always was, on the porch. And under this tree is 
where the hammock was where you took your nap and 
where Papa almost sat down on you that time. And this 
is the big stone steps where we always had firecrackers on 
Fourth of July. And this is the well. And this is the 
drawbridge. And this is the place where Clara went to 
feed the chickens. It’s all exactly right, Chiyo, for I drew 
it myself, and you must not forget again. Don’t tell 
Mamma, for she would be sorry, and she is our only 
treasure that we have left. All the rest are gone, Chiyo, 
and we can never have them again. So it can’t be helped, 
and we just have to stand it. But you mustn’t forget that 



TRAGIC TRIFLES 261 

all this— for ever — ^is where our love is. And now, let us 
sing.” 

They stood up, holding hands, and the childish voices 
rose in a clear, steady “My Country, ’tis of Thee!” 

I cried softly as I moved about in the next room and 
thought of the transplanted morning glories. “Is it 
right,” I wondered, “to plant a little unasked flower in a 
garden of love and happiness, from which it must soon be 
wrenched away, only for another, and a dwarfed, start in 
strange, new surroundings ? The garden had much to give 
of strength and inspiration, but is it worth the cost ? Oh, 
is it worth the cost?” 


CHAPTER XXVII 

HONOURABLE GRANDMOTHER 

“Honourable Grandmother is coming — coming! 

Honourable Grandmother is coming to-day!” 

happily sang Chiyo as her little foot mittens came pattering 
over the white mats, following me as I went through the 
rooms giving touches here and there to complete arrange- 
ments for our expected guest. 

Foot mittens took the place of stockings now, and the 
free American dress had given way to a gay-flowered 
kimono with scarlet lining and graceful swinging sleeves. 

“Japanese fashions are the prettiest for Japanese 
people,” I thought as I looked at Chiyo’s black hair, short 
in the back and cut square across the forehead. She had 
not been a pretty child in American dress. Japanese 
clothes were much more becoming, but oh, the opportuni- 
ties for comfortable and healthful bodies the untrammelled 
children of America have! I sighed, yet I was so bound by 
outside influences that I could not regret having changed 
the children into Japanese dress, before their grandmother 
saw them. 

We had been very busy after the arrival of Mother’s let- 
ter saying that she was ready to come. The children and 
I moved in together, and I arranged a cosy little room for 
her, which I knew she would find more convenient and 
comfortable than any other in the house. I wanted 
everything to look homelike to her; so I had the swinging 
electric lights changed to three-foot-high floor lamps 

263 



HONOURABLE GRANDMOTHER ^63 

shaded by black lacquer frames with paper panels, like 
the candle-stands at the Nagaoka home. Our gas heaters 
were already in bronze braziers so ingeniously set up that 
they looked like charcoal burners. Mother would have 
accepted everything new with the smiling philosophy of a 
lifetime, but I did not want her to “accept” things; I 
wanted ever3rthing to look homelike so she could fit in 
happily without effort. 

The empty shrine I had been using for books and the 
children’s hats. Even Taki had not objected to “high 
objects,” as she called them, being placed there; for Japa- 
nese people are taught to respect books as “intellectual 
results,” and hats as pertaining to the revered “crown of 
the body.” But, nevertheless, she was unreservedly 
pleased when I removed the things and began to prepare 
the carved wooden alcove for the small belongings that 
Mother would bring with her from the large shrine at 
home. 

“Where shall we put the shrine that Honourable Grand- 
mother will bring?” asked Hanano, thinking of the elab- 
orate gilded and lacquered cabinet in Uncle Otani’s home. 

“It’s as easy for Honourable Grandmother to wrap up 
all the really necessary things for her shrine as it would be 
for a Christian to carry a Bible and a prayer book,” I 
answered; “and we will have this little alcove all fresh and 
clean for them. Honourable Grandmother loves the 
things that have been sacred to her through all the sor- 
rows and joys of her life.” 

“Do Honourable Grandmother’s God and our God 
know each other up in heaven ?” asked Chiyo. 

I was leaning in the alcove to brush a bit of dust off the 
carving, and Hanano replied. 

“Of course they do, Chiyo,” she said. “Jesus had just 
as hard a time as the August Buddha did to teach people 
that God wants them to be good and kind and splendid. 


264 A DAUGHTER OF THE SAMURAI 

Mamma always says that Honourable Grandmother and 
our dear American Grandma are good, just alike.” 

While we were talking, there had been sounding a con- 
stant pata-pata-pata from the next room, where Sudzu, 
with her sleeves looped back and a blue-and-white towel 
folded over her freshly dressed hair, was vigorously clean- 
ing the paper doors with a shoji duster — a bunch of cut 
papers tied on the end of a short stick. The sound stop- 
ped abruptly and Sudzu appeared in the doorway. 

Quickly removing the towel and pulling olF the cord 
that held back her sleeves, she bowed to the floor. 

“Taki San thinks that the bath water heated by gas 
will be too harsh for the delicate body of Honourable Re- 
tired Mistress,” she said. “Shall I go for a carpenter?” 

I had forgotten the belief of country people that only 
charred wood must be used for bath fuel when one is frail 
or old. I hurried Sudzu out on her errand, and within two 
hours the gas coil had been exchanged for a small charcoal 
furnace, and our arrangements were complete. 

That evening was a memorable one for the children. 
We all went to the station to meet Mother, except Taki. 
She remained behind so that the welcoming red rice and 
the fish, baked head and all, would be in hot readiness; and 
after we reached home, even before the bustle of welcome 
was over, she had the shrine belongings in place and the 
candles lighted. Then, with the gilded doors wide open 
and the pungent odour of incense filling the air, she 
brought in the little shrine table laden with food. Our 
own tables came next, and once again I was sitting down to 
a meal with my mother beside me and the kindly spirits 
of the ancestors welcoming me and mine into cheerful 
companionship. Afterward we retired to the parlour and 
spent an hour in what Hanano called “getting-acquainted 
talk,” before Mother would confess to the weariness which 
her pale face already betrayed. Then we all gathered 



HONOURABLE GRANDMOTHER 265 

before the shrine, Taki and Sudzu sitting just within the 
doorway. 

How familiar, and yet how strange! The chanting, 
the soft sound of the little bronze gong, Mother’s voice 
reading the sacred Buddhist scriptures that so often I had 
heard from the lips of the dear one who long ago had passed 
away— -oh, how quiet and safe it all seemed! The anxious 
loneliness of months was gone, and there crept into my 
heart a peace that had not been mine since the protected 
days when my little family were all together in the dear, 
dear home of our kind, beloved American mother. 

“How alike are the two sides of the world!” I thought. 
“ Both have many gods of little worth, but with one wise, 
loving, understanding Power over all, the time must surely 
come when we shall understand.” 

The weeks following were filled with new and unex- 
pected lessons. I had had no thought but that family 
loyalty and natural affection were the only requisites 
necessary to draw together my mother and my children. 
But I soon discovered that, though neither loyalty nor 
affection was lacking, mutual interests were only possibili- 
ties of the future. 

My attempts to combine the old and the new frequently 
resulted in my having to give up the combination and de- 
cide wholly in favour of one or the other. With materia! 
things this was only an inconvenience; but a puzzling 
problem, indeed, when it came to Mother’s old-fashioned 
ideas clashing with the advanced training of modern 
schools. Mother never criticized. She met all situations 
with a smile or some pleasant remark about the “new ways 
of the world”; but it was evident that she greatly dis- 
trusted the wisdom of spending so much time on boys’ 
studies and so little on flower-arranging, tea-serving, 
koto music, and other womanly accomplishments. And 
the gymnastic exercises which the children enthusiast!- 


266 A DAUGHTER OF THE SAMURAI 

cally described, where whole classes of girls drilled on the 
school grounds, marching and singing with vigorous 
energy, were wholly contrary to her ideas of dignity. 

I tried to explain that these exercises were believed to be 
good for health and growth. I told her it was no longer 
considered bold and mannish for girls to sit straight and to 
carry the head upright when they walked; and that even 
Hanano’s habit of chatting happily about school matters 
while we were eating, which seemed to Mother the man- 
ners of a coolie, was in accordance with her training at 
school. 

Chiyo’s gentle ways had appealed to Mother at once, 
but her sister’s quick, busy, energetic manner was a con- 
stant surprise and puzzle. Hanano was so active, so apt 
to speak without being spoken to, and so constantly doing 
what, according to strict etiquette, were abrupt and dis- 
courteous things, that I was continually on the alert to 
watch for and check her unexpected acts. It was not 
long before I became unhappily conscious that my only 
hours of freedom from anxiety lay between the time when 
Hanano tied up her school books and, jumping into her 
clogs at the door, ran off, gaily waving a good-bye, and the 
afternoon hour when the door would slide open and a 
cheery, ‘T have come back!” come echoing through the 
hall. 

But this did not last. Gradually, I scarcely know when 
or how, the silent strain lessened. Hanano was growing 
more quiet in her talk, more gentle in her manners. Fre- 
quently I would see her settle herself beside Chiyo at 
Mother’s fire-box to listen to stories or to receive help 
as she read aloud, and one day I found both children snug- 
gled up close, one on each side, while Mother showed 
Hanano how to write the characters for “American 
Grandma.” 

Chiyo had loved Mother from the beginning. The 



- HONOURABLE GRANDMOTHER 267 

child’s afFectionate advances were somewhat of a shock 
at first, but very soon the two were congenial companions. 
It was odd that religion should be one of the binding 
cords. The kindergarten was just beyond the temple, so 
Chiyo was familiar with the road, and as I did not like to 
have Mother go alone, Chiyo often went with her when 
Sudzu was busy. The child liked to sit in the great 
solemn place and listen to the chanting, and she liked to be 
given rice-cakes by the mild-faced priestess who served tea 
to Mother after the service. One day Mother said: 
“Chiy6, you are very kind to come with me to the temple. 
Next time I will go with you to your church.” So 
Chiyo took her to hear our minister, a good man who 
preached in Japanese. After that they often went to- 
gether, sometimes to the temple, where Chiyo stood with 
bowed head while her grandmother softly rubbed her 
rosary between her hands and murmured, “Namu Amida 
Butsu!” and sometimes to the Christian church, where 
Mother listened attentively to the sermon and bowed in 
reverence when the Minister prayed. Then hand in 
hand they would come home together, talking of what 
they had heard at one place or the other. One day as they 
entered the gate, I heard Mother say gently: “It may be 
that he said true things, Chiyo, but I must not go to a 
better place than where my honourable husband is. Even 
if he is in the dreadful Hell of Cold, it is my duty to be 
with him. The Christian faith is for the new generation, 
like you, little Chiyo, but I must follow the path of my 
ancestors.” 

One afternoon, when I was sewing in my room, I heard 
Chiyo’s voice beyond the closed doors. 

“Honourable Grandmother,” she said, “when are you 
going to die?” 

I pushed back the sliding door. There was Mother with 
Chiyo snuggled up beside her on the same cushion. I 



268 A DAUGHTER OF THE SAMURAI 


was astonished, for in my day no child would have dared 
to be so familiar with an elder, but there she was, and 
both were looking down gravely at an array of tiny lacquer 
boxes spread out on the floor. A large box, into which the 
smaller ones fitted closely, was near by. How well I 
remembered that box! All through my childhood it was 
kept in a drawer of my mother’s toilet cabinet, and every 
once in a while she would take out the little boxes and 
sprinkle powdered incense into each one. This was what 
she was doing now. 

“I wish I had those pretty boxes for my dolly,” said 
Chiyo. 

"Oh, no, little Granddaughter,” Mother said, lifting 
one of the tiny boxes and shaking gently the curved bits 
that looked like shavings of pale shell. “These are my 
nail clippings that have been saved all my life.” 

“Your finger-nails — ^and your toe-nails!” cried the 
child. “Oh, my! How funny!” 

“Hush, little Granddaughter. I am afraid you have 
not been trained to respect the traditions of your ances- 
tors. We have to save our nails and cut-oflP baby hair so 
that our bodies may be perfect when we start on the long 
journey. The time cannot be far away,” she said, gazing 
thoughtfully out into the garden. 

Chiyo had been peering curiously into the boxes, but 
no^ her face suddenly sobered and she drew a little closer 
to her grandmother. 

“My heart is troubled. Honourable Grandmother,” 
she said. “I thought it would be a long, long time.- You 
said you had always, even when you were a little girl, put 
perfume in the boxes to keep them nice and all ready for 
your death.” 

Mother lovingly stroked the little black head with her 
wrinkled hand. 

“Yes, but it will not be long now. I have finished my 



HONOURABLE GRANDMOTHER 269 

life work, and the merciful Buddha is preparing my plat- 
form of lotus blossoms, I am very sure.” 

‘'Does the merciful Buddha want you to take your old 
clipped nails with you when you go to the lotus plat- 
form?” 

“No; he does not care about my body. He cares only 
for me.” 

“Then why did you save your nails so carefully?” 

Mother glanced toward the closed shrine. 

“The holy shrine, little Chiyo, is only a box when it is 
empty,” she said, “and my body is only a borrowed shrine 
in which I live. But it is proper courtesy to leave a bor- 
rowed article in the best condition.” 

Chiyo’s eyes looked very deep and solemn for a moment. 

“That’s why we have to take a bath every day and 
always keep our teeth clean. Dear me! I never thought 
of that as being polite to God.” 

I had been so anxious over the children’s shortcomings in 
etiquette and so happy over the slow but satisfactory out- 
come that I had never given a thought to the changes 
which my years in America must have made in myself. 
One afternoon, coming back from a hurried errand, I was 
walking rapidly up the road toward home when I saw 
Mother standing in the gateway watching me. I knew 
that she disapproved of my undignified haste, as indeed 
she should, for nothing is more ungraceful than a hurrying 
woman in Japanese dress. 

She met me with her usual bow, then said with a gentle 
smile, “Etsu-bo, you are growing to be very like your 
honourable father.” 

I laughed, but my cheeks were hot as I walked up the 
path beside her, accepting silently the needed reproof, 
for no Japanese woman likes to be told that her walk sug- 
gests that of a man. Occasional hints like this kept my 
manners from marching with my mind on the road to prog- 


270 A DAUGHTER OF THE SAMURAI 

ress; and under the same quiet influence my two active 
American children gradually changed into two dignified 
Japanese girls. Within two years’ time both spoke Japa- 
nese without accent and both wore Japanese dress so well 
that to strangers they appeared to have lived always in 
Japan. 

“Just to be in the same house with Mother is excellent 
training for a girl,” I thought, congratulating myself that 
Hanano had adapted herself so well to her grandmother’s 
standards. Selfishly busy with my daily duties, and con- 
tent that our home was so harmonious, I had forgotten 
that, when duty lies between the old and the young. Na- 
ture’s law points direct to youth. I was counting the gain 
only — but what of the loss.? 

One day in the cherry-blossom season, Hanano was sit- 
ting at her desk near mine when a light breeze touched 
the branches of a cherry tree near the porch and some pale 
pink petals drifted across her desk. She picked one up 
and after holding it a moment, pressed it gently between 
her fingers, then threw it aside, and sat looking at the 
damp spot on her finger. 

“What are you thinking, Hanano?” I asked. 

She looked up startled, then slowly turned away. 

“One time in America,” she said after a moment, “when 
many people were at our house — think it must have been 
an afternoon tea — I got tired and went out on the lawn. I 
climbed to my castle, you remember, the seventh limb of 
the big apple tree. The blossoms were just falling and a 
petal fell right into my hand. It left a wet spot, just like 
this cherry petal did. Oh, Mamma, wouldn’t you give 
just everything to see Grandma again— and the porch, and 
the trees, and ■” 

The little black head went down on the desk, but before 
I could reach her it was up again, held high. 

“It’s all right,” she said; “I love Japan— now. But 


HONOURABLE GRANDMOTHER 271 

there used to be times when my breast was just full of red- 
hot fire, and I had to run fast — fast. And once, when you 
were all away, I climbed the prickly pine by the porch — 
just once. But I don’t want to any more. It’s all right. 
I love it here.” 

I remembered, then, how sometimes she had scampered 
around and around the garden, her sleeves flying in the 
wind and her clogs clattering over the stepping-stones ; 
and I, ignorant and unsympathetic mother that I was, had 
taken her to my room and talked to her about being gentle 
and quiet. 

But that was a long time before. Gradually she had 
learned to talk a little lower, to laugh a little less, to walk a 
bit more noiselessly on the matting, and to sit silent and 
attentive with bowed head when her elders were speaking. 
Only the other day Mother had said; “Granddaughter 
shows great promise. She is growing gentle and graceful.” 

As I sat and thought, I wondered if Hanano was ever 
really happy any more. She never seemed sorrowful, but 
she had changed. Her eyes were soft, not bright; her 
mouth drooped slightly and her bright, cheery way of 
speaking had slowed and softened. Gentle and graceful ? 
Yes. But where was her quick readiness to spring up at 
my first word? Where her joyous eagerness to see, to 
learn, to do? My little American girl, so full of vivid in- 
terest in life, was gone. 

With a feeling of helplessness I looked over at her desk 
and was comforted; for the touch of homesickness had 
passed away and she was studying busily. 

An hour later, when I went unexpectedly to her room, 
I saw her kneeling beside an open drawer where her Ameri- 
can clothes were kept. She had pulled out her old serge 
suit, and her face was buried in its folds. I crept away 
to the garden. I could not see, and I stumbled over a 
flower pot. It was a dwarf pine. The pushing ro(«;s had 




273 A DAUGHTER OF THE SAMURAI 

burst the pot, and my touch had caused it to fall apart, 
disclosing the roots cramped together in a twisted knot. 

“It is just like poor Hananol” I moaned. 
bind it again to-morrow, and neither it, nor she, will eter 

be free!” 


CHAPTER XXVIII 
sister’s visit 

T hat summer Mother was far from well. Lately her 
occasional attacks of asthma had become more fre- 
quent and trying. Thinking that a visit from my elder 
sister, who had always lived near our old home, would 
give Mother the happiness, not only of seeing her daughter, 
but also of hearing the pleasant gossip of old neighbours 
and friends, I wrote asking her to come to Tokyo. In a 
few weeks she was with us and proved a veritable blessing 
to us all. She was a comfort to Mother, a wise adviser to 
me, and an encyclopedia of interesting family history to 
the children; for there was nothing Sister liked better than 
telling stories of our old home as it was when she was a 
child. 

Almost every day that summer, about the time the sun 
was sinking behind the tiled roof of our neighbour’s tall 
house and the cool shadows were creeping across our gar- 
den, we would gather in the big room opening on the porch. 
One at a time we came, each fresh from a hot bath and 
clothed in the coolest of linen. Mother sat on her silk 
cushion, straight and dignified; but Sister, more informal, 
usually discarded a cushion, preferring, instead, the cool, 
clean mats. She was a beautiful woman. I can see her 
now, slipping quietly into her place, the suggestion of a 
wave in her shining widow-cut hair, and her sweet face 
seeming to be only waiting for an excuse to break into one 
of her gentle smiles. Between Sister and Mother were 
the children: Hanano’s fingers, always busy, shaping bits of 

273 


274 A DAUGHTER OF THE SAMURAI 

gay silk into a set of bean-bags or cutting out a paper doll 
for Chiyo, who, gazing with loving admiration at her sis- 
ter, sat with her own dear, lazy little hands folded on her 
lap. 

This was our hour to spend in talking of the small hap- 
penings of the day: school successes and trials, incidents 
connected with home affairs and stray items of neighbour- 
hood gossip. But almost inevitably the conversation 
would eventually drift into a channel that called forth 
from someone the familiar, “Oh, isn’t th^t interesting! 
Tell us about it!” or “Yes, I remember. Do tell that to 
the children.” 

One afternoon Mother mentioned that the priest had 
called that day to make arrangements for a certain temple 
service called “For the Nameless” that was held by our 
family every year. 

“Why is it called ‘For the Nameless’?” asked Hanano. 
“It has such a lonesome sound.” 

“It is a sad story,” replied Mother. “A story that 
began almost three hundred years ago and has not yet 
ended.” 

“How could Kikuno’s story have anything to do with 
the little room at the end of the hall?” I asked abruptly, 
my mind going back to the half-forgotten memory of a 
door that was never opened. “It didn’t happen in that 
house.” 

“No; but the hall room was built right over the haunted 
spot,” replied Sister. “Is it true. Honourable Mother, 
that after the mansion was burned someone planted 
chrysanthemums in the garden, and soft, mysterious lights 
were seen floating among the flowers?” 

Hanano had dropped her sewing into her lap, and both 
children were gazing at Sister with eager, wide-open eyes. 

“Your fate until dinner time is decided, Sister,” I 
laughed. “The children scent a story. Now you can 


SISTER’S VISIT 


m 

tell tliem why you wouldn’t use the cushion decorated 
with . chrysanthemums at the restaurant the other 
day.” * 

“ I must seem foolish-minded to you, Etsu-bo, with your 
progressive ideas,” said Sister, with a half-ashamed smile, 
“but I have never outgrown the feeling that chrysanthe- 
mums are an omen of misfortune to our family.” 

“I know,” I said, sympathetically. “I used to feel so, 
too. I didn’t really get over it until I went to America. 
The name Mary is as common there as Kiku is here, but 
r had associated it only with sacredness and dignity; for 
it is the holiest name for a woman in the world. Some 
people even pray to it. And when, one time, just after I 
went to America, I heard a shopwoman call roughly, 
‘Mary, come here!’ and out ran a ragged child with a 
dirty face, I was astoundecj. And a neighbour of ours had 
an ignorant servant girl by that name. It was a shock 
at first; but I finally learned that association is a narrow 
thing. When we apply it broadly the original feeling does 
not fit.’’ 

“People learn to forget when they travel,” said Sister 
quietly; “but as far back as I can remember, no chrysan- 
themum flower was ever brought into our house, no chry- 
santhemum decoration was ever used on our screens, our 
dishes, our dresses, or our fans; and, with all the pretty 
flower names in our family, that of Kiku — chrysanthemum 
— has never been borne by an Inagaki. Even a servant 
with that name was never allowed to work for us unless 
she was willing to be called something else while she lived 
in our house.” 

“Why? Oh, do tell us about it !” pleaded both children. 

So again I heard the story, familiar from childhood, but 
changing continually in its significance as I grew older, 
until it became fixed in my mind as the hero tale of a 
brave old samurai who represented the double virtue of a 


274 A DAUGHTER OF THE SAMURAI 

gay silk into a set of bean-bags or cutting out a paper doll 
for Chiyo, who, gazing with loving admiration at her sis- 
ter, sat with her own dear, lazy little hands folded on her 
lap. 

This was our hour to spend in talking of the small hap- 
penings of the day: school successes and trials, incidents 
connected with home affairs and stray items of neighbour- 
hood gossip. But almost inevitably the conversation 
would eventually drift into a channel that called forth 
from someone the familiar, “Oh, isn’t th%t interesting! 
Tell us about it!” or “Yes, I remember. Do tell that to 
the children.” 

One afternoon Mother mentioned that the priest had 
called that day to make arrangements for a certain temple 
service called “For the Nameless” that was held by our 
family every year. 

“Why is it called ‘For the Nameless’?” asked Hanano. 
“It has such a lonesome sound.” 

“It is a sad story,” replied Mother. “A stoiy that 
began almost three hundred years ago and has not yet 
ended.” 

“How could Kikuno’s story have anything to do with 
the little room at the end of the hall?” Tasked abruptly, 
my mind going back to the half-forgotten memory of a 
door that was never opened. “It didn’t happen in that 
house.” 

“No; but the hall room was built right over the haunted 
spot,” replied Sister. “Is it true. Honourable Mother, 
that after the mansion was burned someone planted 
chrysanthemums in the garden, and soft, mysterious lights 
were seen floating among the flowers ?” 

Hanano had dropped her sewing into her lap, and both 
children were gazing at Sister with eager, wide-open eyes. 

“Your fate until dinner time is decided. Sister,” I 
laughed. “The children scent a story. Now you can 


SISTER’S VISIT 


275 

teH tliem why you wouldn’t use the cushion decorated 
with . chrysanthemums at the restaurant the other 
day.” ' 

“1 must seem foolish-minded to you, Etsu-bo, with your 
progressive ideas,” said Sister, with a half-ashamed smile, 
“but I have never outgrown the feeling that chrysanthe- 
mums are an omen of misfortune to our family.” 

“I know,” I said, sympathetically. “I used to feel so, 
too. I didn’t really get over it until I w^ent to America. 
The name Mary is as common there as Kiku is here, but 
f had associated it only with sacredness and dignity; for 
it is the holiest name for a woman in the world. Some 
people even pray to it. And when, one time, just after I 
went to America, I heard a shopwoman call roughly, 
‘Mary, come here!’ and out ran a ragged child with a 
dirty face, I was astounde4. And a neighbour of ours had 
an ignorant servant girl by that name. It was a shock 
at first; but I finally learned that association is a narrow 
thing. When we apply it broadly the original feeling does 
not fit.’’ 

“ People learn to forget when they travel,” said Sister 
quietly; “but as far back as I can remember, no chrysan- 
themum flower was ever brought into our house, no chry- 
santhemum decoration was ever used on our screens, our 
dishes, our dresses, or our fans; and, with all the pretty 
flower names in our family, that of Kiku — chrysanthemum 
• — has never been borne by an Inagaki. Even a servant 
with that name was never allowed to work for us unless 
she was willing to be called something else while she lived 
in our house.” 

“Why? Oh, do tell us about it!” pleaded both children. 

So again I heard the story, familiar from childhood, but 
changing continually in its significance as I grew older, 
until it became fixed in my mind as the hero tale of a 
brave old samurai who represented the double virtue of a 


276 A DAUGHTER OF THE SAMURAI 

great and tender love combined with the hard, cold 
strength of loyalty to duty. 

This ancestor of mine was lord of our family during the 
period when it was a government requirement that men 
of his class should have two handmaids. This was to 
guard against the possibility of there being no heir, that 
being an unspeakable calamity to people who believed that 
a childless family meant heavenly annihilation. Hand- 
maids were always selected by the wife, from families 
of her own rank; and their position, although inferior in 
influence, was considered as honoured as that of the 
wife. 

The second of my ancestor’s handmaids was named 
Kikuno. Her lord was old enough to be her father, but it 
must be true that he loved her, for our family records show 
that he loaded her relatives with gifts and with honours. 
Of course, we Japanese never say anything not nice about 
our ancestors, and it may be that family traditions are not 
always reliable, but they all praise this man, and I like to 
believe them true. 

Every house of noble class, in those days, was divided 
into the home department, ruled by the mistress, where 
there were only women attendants, and the lord’s depart- 
ment, where every branch of work was done by men. For 
delicate and artistic duties, such as tea-serving and 
flower-arranging, graceful youths were chosen who dressed 
in gay garments with swinging sleeves like girls, and wore 
their hair in an artistic crown-queue with fluffy sides. 

Among these attendants of my ancestor was a youth 
who was an especial favourite. He must have possessed 
both rank and culture, for he was the son of his lord’s 
highest retainer. Although* the departments of the lord 
and the mistress were entirely separate, there was daily 
passing back and forth on formal errands, and also many 
gatherings for duty or for entertainment, in which both 



SISTER’S VISIT 


277 

men and women took part. On these occasions the gentle 
Kikuno and the handsome youth were frequently thrown 
together. She was only seventeen. Her lord was twice 
her age, and his thoughts were of war and its grim duties. 
The gentle, soft-voiced youth, whose talk was of poetry 
and flowers, won her heart; and it was the old story of 
Launcelot and Guinevere. 

We have no reason to believe that any real wrong was in 
the heart of either; but a Japanese girl was taught from 
childhood to subdue self, and when she married — and to 
become a handmaid was one type of marriage — she was 
expected to live with no thought of self at all. 

Rumours reached the ears of the master, but he waved 
them aside as absurd. One day, however, he walked into 
the great room adjoining the court and found the two talk- 
ing in low voices, and — an unpardonable breach of eti- 
quette-alone. This was, of course, a stain on the family 
name, which, according to the code of honour of that day, 
could be wiped out only with blood, or — a disgrace a 
thousand times worse than death — ^the exile of the cul- 
prits through the water gate, thus making them out- 
casts. 

The old lord was merciful and allowed them honourable 
death by the sword. Both recognized the justice of their 
fate. Kikuno went away to prepare for death, and the 
young man, with slow and ceremonious dignity, removed 
his two swords and slipped his right arm from his outer 
dress, leaving only the white silk undergarment. Then he 
gave the sash a quick, loosening jerk, and with his short 
sword in his hand, quietly seated himself on the mat. 

I often pity the wronged lord as I think of him sitting 
there, erect and silent. I know his heart was full of grief 
as well as bitterness and indignation, but whatever the 
struggle within, he had to be true to the duty plainly 
marked out by the inexorable usage of the day. 



278 A DAUGHTER OF THE SAMURAI 

Poor Kikuno went to her baby boy for a few last loving 
touches as he lay sleeping in his nurse’s arms, but she said 
good-bye to no one else. She washed the rouge from her 
lips, loosened her hair, tied it with the paper death-bow, 
and put on her white death-robe. Then she went back to 
the room where her lover and her lord were silently wait- 
ing. 

Without the slightest deviation, the unchanging cere- 
mony of Japanese etiquette was carried out. She 
kneeled and bowed deeply, first to her wronged lord and 
then to the beautiful girl-dressed youth beside him. 
Seating herself with her face to the west, she took her long 
sash of soft crepe and tightly bound her folded knees. 
For one moment she placed together her hands, clasping a 
crystal rosary; then slipping the rosary over one wrist, she 
lifted her dagger to press the point to her throat. Her lord 
was a stern and a just man, but he must have loved the 
woman very tenderly, for he did a wonderful thing. Lean- 
ing quickly forward, he took away her dagger and placed 
in her hand his own short sword. It was a Masamune, 
a precious family heirloom, and sacred because a gift to 
his grandfather from the great leyasu. 

Well, they both died : the youth, bravely, like a samurai; 
but poor Kikuno threw out one hand as she fell, which 
struck the plaster wall and left a lasting stain. 

The man’s body was sent to his family with the polite 
message that his death had taken place suddenly. Every- 
one understood, and, like the youth himself, recognized 
the justice of his fate. He was buried at midnight, 'and 
ever afteiward both the temple and his family gave him 
only silent death anniversaries. But the woman was 
buried with great honour— suitable to the mother of the 
young lord — and a large sum was given to charity in her 
name. Then the lord forbade any of his descendants ever 
to cultivate the chrysanthemum flower or to allow the 



SISTER’S VISIT 


m 

name, Kiku, in the household. The baby, whose frail 
mother had robbed him of his birthright, was sent away— 
for no stain must descend to the next generation — and a 
later-born little one carried on the family name. 

The blood-stained room was closed, and until the burn- 
ing of the mansion about two hundred years later was 
never opened. When my father rebuilt his ruined home 
many of the relatives urged him to leave an open space 
above the site of that room, but he refused, saying that 
the kindly spirit of living friends had taught him to believe 
in the kindly spirit of the dead. My father was a very 
progressive man for that day. 

But the servants never forgot. They said the new 
room had on its plaster wall the same faint, dark stain of a 
wide-open hand that was on the wall of the old; and so 
many ghostly stories were told, that finally, for purely 
practical reasons, my mother was obliged to close this 
room also. 

The little son of Kikuno became a priest who, in later 
life, built a small temple on Cedar Mountain. It was so 
placed that its shadow falls over a lonely nameless grave 
guarded by a statue of the goddess of Mercy. 

But the memory of love and pity cannot die. For al- 
most three hundred years my stern old ancestor has lain 
among his people in his extravagant bed of vermilion and 
charcoal; and for almost three hundred years the descend- 
ants of the name whose honour he upheld have, in respect 
for his unexpressed heart wish, held each year a sacred 
service in memory of “The Nameless.” 



CHAPTER XXIX 


A LADY OF OLD JAPAN 

O NE afternoon Sister and I were sewing in my room 
when Hanano came in. It was warm weather and 
the paper doors had been lifted off so that the entire 
fronts of the rooms facing the garden were open. We 
could look across and see Mother sitting beside the dining- 
room fire-box, holding her long, slender pipe in her hand 
and gazing out into the garden as if her thoughts were 
far away. 

“Mother is happy in this home,” said Sister. “Her 
face has the calm, peaceful look of the August Buddha.” 

“I wonder,” said Flanano thoughtfully, “if Honourable 
Grandmother was ever really, strongly, terribly excited in 
all her life.” 

Sister looked at Hanano with a strange smile. 

“I never saw her seem excited,” she said slowly. “It 
was a terrible time when we left the old home, but Mother 
was calm and steady. She commanded like a general on 
the battlefield.” 

“Oh, tell me!” cried Hanano, sitting up very straight. 
“Tell me all about it.” 

“Perhaps it would be well. Sister,” I said. “Hanano is 
old enough to know. Tell her all of Mother’s life that you 
can remember.” 

So she told how Mother, when only thirteen years of 
age, was lifted into her wedding palanquin and, accom- 
panied by a long procession of attendants, headed by 
spearmen and followed by her father’s guards, journeyed 

280 


28r 


A LADY OF OLD JAPAN 

to her new home. Father was First Counsellor of the 
daimiate, and his bride came to a mansion so spacious that 
in all the years she lived in it there were rooms in which 
she never set her foot. She saw little of her husband, for 
his duties as ruler obliged him to make frequent journeys 
to the capital, and the young wife filled her time in writing 
poems on slender cards of gold and silver, or playing dolls 
with her attendants; for, after all, she was only a child. 

In time, a son and two daughters were born; but the 
little girls, with nurses to take every care from their 
mother, were a good deal like beautiful playthings to her; 
and her son, the heir who was to carry on the family name, 
had so many attendants with various duties that she saw 
him only at stated intervals. He was like a precious 
jewel for which she had strong affection, but still stronger 
was the feeling of pride. So in the big, peaceful mansion 
the girl-wife passed the pleasant, uneventful years. 

Then changes came, for clouds of war were gathering 
slowly over the land. Her husband gradually told her of 
many important things, and one day he left home on a 
mission that filled her heart with dread. She was not 
far out of her teens, but she knew the duties of a samurai’s 
wife, and with suddenly awakened womanhood she called 
her son’s tutor and they disguised in shabby clothing her 
small son, whose life as heir would be forfeit if his father 
came to harm, and sent him, in the care of faithful Minota, 
to the protection of our ancestral temple on the mountain. 
Then she waited, while every day the clouds grew more 
threatening. One dark, rainy night there came a warrior 
to her home bearing the tidings that Father was a prisoner 
and on his way to the capital. Near the midnight toll of 
the temple bell he would pass the road at the foot of the 
mountain, and she would be permitted an interview. 

She looked at the messenger steadily. If there should 
be treachery what would become of her son? 


282 A DAUGHTER OF THE SAMURAI 


“Are you a samurai?” she asked. 

Solemnly the man put his hand to the hilt of his sword. 

“I am a samurai,” he answered. 

“Whether friend or enemy,” she said, “if you are a 
samurai, I will trust you.” 

Though she believed him, those were dangerous days, 
and so she washed her hair and put on her death-robe, 
covering it with an ordinary dress. Then, slipping her 
dagger into her sash and bidding her faithful servant 
Yoshita to be loyal to his young master, whatever hap- 
pened, she told the messenger she was ready. 

Through the rain and darkness they went — ^the warrior, 
his wet armour shining in the lantern-light, followed by 
Mother in her hidden death-robe. They passed through 
empty streets and along narrow paths of lonely ricefields 
until finally they came to the road which curved around 
the foot of the mountain. There they waited. 

Presently lights came swaying through the darkness 
and they could hear the dull, soft thuds of trotting carriers, 
coming nearer and nearer, then to a stop. A palanquin 
covered with a rope net was rested on the ground, a warrior 
on each side. The carriers stood back. Mother looked 
up and saw Father’s pale face gazing at her through the 
small square window. The crossed spears of the warriors 
were between them. There was a moment’s silence, then 
Father spoke. 

“My wife, I trust you with my sword.” 

That was all. Both knew that listening ears were eager 
for word of the son. Mother only bowed, but F ather k^iew 
that she understood. 

The reed screen was dropped before the face of the 
prisoner, the warriors shouldered their spears, the carriers 
lifted the poles of the palanquin to their shoulders, and 
the little procession passed on into the darkness. The 
guide she had trusted raised his bowed head and turned 



A LADY OF OLD JAPAN 283 

toward the ricefields, and poor Mother followed, carrying 
with , her: the knowledge of a sacred trust; for those few 
words from Father's lips meant: Death is before me. I 
trust to you the son who will continue the name of Inagaki 
and thus insure the heavenly salvation of hundreds of 
ancestors.^' 

Again poor Mother bore the heavy burden of anxious 
uncertainty, until one autumn night when a messenger 
brought word that the plain was full of soldiers marching 
toward Nagaoka. For that she had been waiting; so, 
calm ‘and fearless, she commanded that the entire house 
be arranged as for honoured guests. The most treasured 
roll pictures were hung, the rarest ornaments placed on 
tokonomasy then the retainers and servants vrere ordered 
to leave by a rear gateway and to scatter in various di- 
rections. 

Sister was only a child of seven, but she remembered 
every detail of that awful night. She and little Sister 
were awakened by frightened nurses and hurried into 
dress and sash — for even in their haste and horror the sash, 
emblem of virtue to every Japanese girl, could not be for- 
gotten by the trusted servant of a samurai family — and 
taken part way up the mountain to wait in the darkness 
for Mother, coming more slowly with Honourable Grand- 
Mother and two menservants. 

Sister smiled faintly as she told how Honourable Grand- 
mother and Mother looked as they came up the narrow 
path, disguised as farmers. Honourable Grandmother's 
straw coat kept pulling apart and showing her purple 
dress, which was of a kind worn only by a retired mistress 
of her rank, and which she had stubbornly refused to have 
removed. And she would wtwalk with her toes turned out 
as peasants do. 

Leaving Honourable Grandmother with them on the 
mountain-side, Mother went back to the mansion with 


a 84 A DAUGHTER OF THE SAMURAI 

Yoshita. They could see the two, carrying torches of 
twisted paper, as they passed from point to point, Yoshita 
piling straw and Mother lighting with her own hands the 
fires to destroy her home. Honourable Grandmother sat 
perfectly quiet, gazing straight before her, but the servants 
knelt on the ground swaying back and forth, sobbing and 
wailing, as servants will. Then Mother, with dishevelled 
hair and smoke-stained face, came toiling up the path, and 
by the pale light of early dawn the two little girls were 
dressed in servants’ clothes from the bundle on Yoshita’s 
back, and the nurses were told to take them indifferent 
directions to places of safety. Servants were trustworthy 
in those days. To each was given a dagger with orders to 
use it in case capture was inevitable. Those crested dag- 
gers are still held as treasures in the families of the faithful 
nurses. 

Sister said it was a long time before she saw Mother 
again. Her nurse took her to a farmer’s family where she 
dressed and lived as they did, and her nurse worked in the 
ricefield with the farmer’s wife. Every night, after her 
bath, she 'was rubbed with a brown juice squeezed from 
wild persimmons — for castle people are lighter than peas- 
ants — and was told to talk like the children she played 
with. She was treated like the others in every way ex- 
cept that always she was served first. “ I know now,” ex- 
plained Sister, “that the farmer suspected who I was, 
but we were in one of the districts where Father had 
bestowed upon the headman the privilege of owming two 
swords, and so we were not betrayed. Little Sister, was 
in a similar place of safety.” 

In the meantime. Honourable Grandmother and 
Mother, in the care of Yoshita, all wearing the dress and 
wide, drooping hats of peasants, had been wandering from 
place to place, sometimes living in the mountains, some- 
times in a farmer’s family, and sometimes for a few weeks 



A LADY OF OLD JAPAN 285 

finding refuge in a temple. More than two years this 
dreadful time lasted; always hiding, always hunted; for 
though Father was a prisoner and his cause lost, conquest 
was not complete until the enemy had extinguished for 
ever the family and name. 

“At last,” Sister went on, “Mother came to the farm- 
house where I was. She looked so thin, so brown, and so 
wild that I didn’t know her, and cried out. That night 
Minota brought Brother. He told us that the priest, 
in order to save the child’s life, had given him up, and for 
several months he had been a prisoner with Father. Both 
had been very near the honourable death, but a message 
that the war was ended and all political prisoners were 
pardoned had saved them. Brother seemed to have al- 
most forgotten me and would not talk much, but I heard 
him tell Mother that, one day, when soldiers were seen 
coming up the mountain, the priest had put him in a book 
chest and, covering him with rolls of sacred writings, had 
left the cover olF and seated himself beside it as if ar- 
ranging papers. Brother said that he heard rough foot- 
steps and falling furniture, and when all was quiet and he 
was lifted out, he saw that spears had been thrust through 
the closed chests standing in the row with the one where 
he was hidden. 

The next day Mother had gathered her family together 
and Yoshita found a place where they could live. Then 
Father came, and in a modest way life began all over again. 

“So you see, Hanano,” said Sister, “your grandmother’s 
life has not always been full of peace.” 

“ft was a wonderful life,” said Hanano in a tone of 
awe, “wonderful — and terrible. But Honourable Grand- 
mother did things! Oh, she did things!” 

I looked at the lithe young body, held so straight, at the 
uplifted head and the tightly clasped hands. She was 
very like Mother. One generation removed from the 


286 A DAUGHTER OF THE SAMURAI 


anGient pride and rigid training; one generation ahead of 
the coming freedom; living, alas! in the sad present- 
puzzled, misunderstood, and alone! 

Sister remained with us throughout the autumn and 
into the winter. I shall always be doubly thankful for 
her visit, for those weeks were Mother’s last with us, and 
they were happy ones. The long talks when she and Sis- 
ter lived over the old days were like those of friends rather 
than mother and daughter; for there was only fourteen 
years between them and Sister was as old-fashioned in 
many ways as Mother. And when the sorrowful, time 
came. Sister’s presence was an especial comfort to me, for 
she was familiar with all the old customs and could direct 
with a tenderness that no other could have shown. 

On our sad journey to the temple, as we followed the 
death kago swaying on the shoulders of the white-robed 
coolies, my thoughts went back to another day long before, 
when I, a child of eleven, walked in a procession of mourn- 
ing friends, my little hands clasped tight about the tablet 
bearing my father’s name. Over the narrow paths of the 
ricefields we wound after the chanting priests, while from 
the high, tossing baskets carried on long poles by their at- 
tendants showered hundreds of tiny pieces of the five- 
coloured sacred paper. They filled the air with clouds of 
soft colours, floating and mingling as they drifted down- 
ward to settle gently on the straw hats and white robes of 
the mourners. 

Now, everything was different. Even the honours we 
show our dead must bow to the world’s changes, and the 
services for Mother were the simplest possible to be in ac- 
cord with her former rank. But she had requested that, 
in addition to the rites for herself, there should be held 
the ceremony for “The Nameless.” 

My noble, loyal mother ! True to her wifehood and to 
her husband’s family, even as she was entering the door 


A LADY OF OLD JAPAN 287 

of death she had remembered poor Kikuno, for whom no 
prayer was ever offered except in this lonely service. And 
since Brother, the head of the family, was a Christian, 
she knew it would never again be observed. 

All through the calm and peaceful intoning, beneath 
which sounded the rhythmic throb of the wooden drum, 
my mind was on my gentle mother’s life of unswerving 
duty to her highest belief, and I wondered what power 
had kept her so strong and true. Then, dully, I became 
aware that the soft music was melting into a weird and 
mournful chanting that carried my thought to the hopeless 
soul who had lost the way to Heaven because of her great 
sin. And so, once more, the descendants of the name she 
had dishonoured, sat, lowly bowed, while the priests 
chanted the prayer that help be given to guide the wan- 
derer on her lonely path. 

When we came to the pause in the music where the high 
priest chants the arrival of the dead at the gates of Heaven 
to present the plea for mercy, the priests raised their cym- 
bals above their heads, and, bringing them slowly to- 
gether, clashed a long, quivering accompaniment to the 
soft, muffled beat of the wooden drum. Before my misty 
eyes the swinging sleeves made a blur of purple, scarlet, 
and gold, and, listening to the wailing and pleading 
prayer that had for almost three hundred years winged its 
way through the curling incense, I wondered if the long- 
remembering God of Vengeance would not, if only in 
pity for Mother’s unselfish faithfulness, grant this last 
plea_ for the erring one of long ago. 

At the temple door I made my last bow to my mother’s 
dear body, and, with a heavy ache in my heart, stood 
watching the swaying kago with its curving roof and gilded 
lotus blossoms as it disappeared at a turn in the road 
leading to the cremation grounds. Then we returned to 
the lonely home, and for forty-nine days the candles 


288 A DAUGHTER OF THE SAMURAI 

burned and the incense curled its fragrant way through the 
carvings of the little whitewood shrine. On the last night 
I knelt in my mother’s old place and breathed a Christian 
prayer to the God who understands. Then I slowly closed 
the gilded doors upon my prayer, believing sincerely that 
my mother’s journey had ended in peace; and that, wher- 
ever she was or whatever she might be doing, she was 
faithfully taking her part in God’s great plan. 

My minister was sorely troubled that I should have ob- 
served these last Buddhist rites — unnecessary after my 
mother had passed beyond the knowledge or the hurt of 
their neglect. I told him that, had I died even one day 
after I became a Christian, my mother would have been 
faithful, to the minutest detail, in giving me the Christian 
burial that she believed would satisfy my heart; and 
that I was my mother’s daughter. Influence? Yes. The 
influence of loyalty, sympathy, understanding; all of 
which are characteristics of Our Father — hers and mine. 



CHAPTER XXX 


THE WHITE COW 

WHEN Hanano was fifteen, the family council 
' ^ brought up the subject I had been most dreading. 
According to Japanese custom, when there are only daugh- 
ters in a family, a son is adopted, who takes the family 
name and marries the eldest daughter. Thus the name is 
perpetuated. The question of the selection of a son for 
me, I had dealt with in as tactful a manner as possible, but 
after having refused two or three offers, I saw that I was 
expected to give a positive decision soon. 

It is never wise for a Japanese woman, if she wishes to 
retain a position of influence and dignity, to say much on 
any subject. Actions, not words, are her most successful 
means of expression; but the time came when I saw that 
I must speak. With a letter of wise suggestions from my 
ever-faithful American mother in my hand, I went before 
the council and asked to be allowed to take the children 
back to my former home for a few years more of study. 
This request caused excited discussions; but I now had 
friends in the council, both of Matsuo’s family and of my 
own, ai d my past faithful adherence to their wishes 
brought a glorious reward. Again my petition was 
granted, and, with my heart weighted with gratitude and 
my soul singing with joy, I began my preparations to 
return to America. 

With Chiyo, our going was a question of whether to 
be glad or sad. Leaving her little friends and her 
loved school, to go back to a vagueness in which only 

■■ »89 


288 A DAUGHTER OF THE SAMURAI 

burned and the incense curled its fragrant way through the 
carvings of the little whitewood shrine. On the last night 
I knelt in my mother’s old place and breathed a Christian 
prayer to the God who understands. Then I slowly closed 
the gilded doors upon my prayer, believing sincerely that 
my mother’s journey had ended in peace; and that, wher- 
ever she was or whatever she might be doing, she was 
faithfully taking her part in God’s great plan. 

My minister was sorely troubled that I should have ob- 
served these last Buddhist rites — unnecessary after my 
mother had passed beyond the knowledge or the hurt of 
their neglect. I told him that, had I died even one day 
after I became a Christian, my mother would have been 
faithful, to the minutest detail, in giving me the Christian 
burial that she believed would satisfy my heart; and 
that I was my mother’s daughter. Influence? Yes. The 
influence of loyalty, sympathy, understanding; all of 
which are characteristics of Our Father— hers and mine. 



CHAPTER XXX 


THE WHITE COW 

W HEN Hanano was fifteen, the family council 
brought up the subject I had been most dreading. 
According to Japanese custom, w’hen there are only daugh- 
ters in a family, a son is adopted, who takes the family 
name and marries the eldest daughter. Thus the name is 
perpetuated. The question of the selection of a son for 
me, I had dealt with in as tactful a manner as possible, but 
after having refused two or three offers, I saw that I was 
expected to give a positive decision soon. 

It is never wise for a Japanese woman, if she wishes to 
retain a position of influence and dignity, to say much on 
any subject. Actions, not words, are her most successful 
means of expression; but the time came when I saw that 
I must speak. With a letter of wise suggestions from my 
ever-faithful American mother in my hand, I went before 
the council and asked to be allowed to take the children 
back to my former home for a few years more of study. 
This request caused excited discussions; but I now had 
friends in the council, both of Matsuo’s family and of my 
own, ai d my past faithful adherence to their wishes 
brought a glorious reward. Again my petition was 
granted, and, with my heart weighted with gratitude and 
my soul singing with joy, I began my preparations to 
return to America. 

With Chiyo, our going was a question of whether to 
be glad or sad. Leaving her little friends and her 
loved school, to go back to a vagueness in which only 

289 



290 A DAUGHTER OF THE SAMURAI 

“Grandma” stood out vividly was a serious thing. But 
Hanano’s joy was profound. She was quiet, but busy 
every moment, going about with light, quick steps and 
singing softly all the while; and I never glanced at her 
that I did not meet a bright smile. Many times during 
the weeks of preparation, as I watched her happy face, 
the thought came to me that if — if — such a cruel thing 
could happen as that she would never reach the land of her 
heart’s love, I should always be grateful, anyway, for the 
quiet, overflowing joy of this season of hope. Nothing 
could ever take away that happy memory. 

The busy weeks flew by, and at last there came a morn- 
ing when the children, who had been turning down their 
fingers to count the days, gleefully announced that only 
two wide-spread hands were left. Ten days! We were 
almost ready, but however well one may plan, there always 
seem to be some unfinished things that are pushed away 
until the last crowded days. 

The children had never been to Nagaoka. Many times 
I had planned to go, but life was full for us and something 
had always interfered. But I could not allow them to 
leave Japan without a visit to the place where their 
grandmother lay beside her husband among the graves of 
our ancestors; so early one spring morning we started. 

How different was this trip from the one of years before 
which I took with my brother when on my way to school 
in Tokyo! Instead of a journey of several days, spent, 
sometimes perched upon a high wooden saddle, sometimes 
tucked snugly into a swinging kago axid sometimes rolled 
and jolted along the rough path in a jinrikisha, this was 
only fourteen hours of comfortable riding on a brisk little 
narrow-gauge train, that wound its puffing way up the 
mountains, through twenty-six tunnels that represented 
some of the world’s finest engineering. Between these 
dashes of darkness were welcome glimpses of sunny hill- 



THE WHITE COW 


291 

sides terraced with ricefields, and a narrow, winding road 
that I remembered well. Just at twilight we found our- 
selves on the station platform of a busy town having a 
background of hills bristling with the skeleton towers of 
multitudinous oil wells. I had been told of these changes, 
but my slow mind had failed to realize how entirely my 
Nagaoka was a dream of the past. 

I was glad that the children’s first sight of the town was 
in cherry-blossom time; for, even to me, the buildings 
looked smaller and the streets narrow’-er than I had pic- 
tured them in my stories. Everything might have 
proved a disappointment to them had it not been for the 
glow and freshness that peeped over the plaster walls, 
glorified the temple yard, and showed from the tinted 
branches of the trees lining every street. There was a 
faint breeze on our first morning, and as our slow jin- 
rikishas jogged along the strangely unfamiliar road to 
Chokoji the air was filled with fragrance from the pink, 
shell-like petals that were continually dropping, or lying 
in drifts on the sloping roofs of the snow-sheds which 
hung over the sidewalks. 

“How we love these fruitless, beautiful trees — emblem 
of our dying knighthood!” I thought with a sigh; and 
then I looked toward the hill where the castle used to 
stand, and an amused gleam of satisfaction came to me. 
The old spirit of protection still dwelt amidst the ruins, 
for on the foundation rocks rose a huge fire-tower with its 
high platform and warning gong. 

The old house was no more. I had hoped that Brother 
would decide to return, in time, and spend his old age in 
the home of his youth; for the gentle little wife that he 
had taken in late middle life had lived only long enough to 
bring an heir to the Inagaki family and then had drifted 
out of life as gently as she had lived in it during her scant 
score of quiet years. But all Brother’s interests were in a 



290 A DAUGHTER OF THE SAMURAI 

“Grandma” stood out vividly was a serious thing. But 
Hanano’s joy was profound. She was quiet, but busy 
every moment, going about with light, quick steps and 
singing softly all the while; and I never glanced at her 
that I did not meet a bright smile. Many times during 
the weeks of preparation, as I watched her happy face, 
the thought came to me that if — if — such a cruel thing 
could happen as that she would never reach the land of her 
heart’s love, I should always be grateful, anyway, for the 
quiet, overflowing joy of this season of hope. Nothing 
could ever take away that happy memory. 

The busy weeks flew by, and at last there came a morn- 
ing when the children, who had been turning down their 
fingers to count the days, gleefully announced that only 
two wide-spread hands were left. Ten days! We were 
almost ready, but however well one may plan, there always 
seem to be some unfinished things that are pushed away 
until the last crowded days. 

The children had never been to Nagaoka. Many times 
I had planned to go, but life was full for us and something 
had always interfered. But I could not allow them to 
leave Japan without a visit to the place where their 
grandmother lay beside her husband among the graves of 
our ancestors; so early one spring morning we started. 

How different was this trip from the one of years before 
which I took with my brother when on my way to school 
in Tokyo! Instead of a journey of several days, spent, 
sometimes perched upon a high wooden saddle, sometimes 
tucked snugly into a swinging i^^go and sometimes rolled 
and jolted along the rough path in a jinrikisha, this was 
only fourteen hours of comfortable riding on a brisk little 
narrow-gauge train, that wound its pufiing way up the 
mountains, through twenty-six tunnels that represented 
some of the world’s finest engineering. Between these 
dashes of darkness were welcome glimpses of sunny hill- 



THE WHITE COW ' ' ^ 

sides terraced with ricefields, and a narrow^ j 

that I remembered well. Just at twilight havi!’:; 
selves on the station platform of a busy f ^ 

background of hills bristling with the , 

multitudinous oil wells. I had been told o . , _ , , 

but my slow mind had failed to realize bo^ 

Nagaoka was a dream of the past. , , 

I was glad that the children’s first sight oft ^ 
in cherry-blossom time; for, even to to®’ J''. . _ . 
looked smaller and the streets narrower tiu p ^ ^ 
tured them in _my stories. Everything ^ 

proved a disappointment to them had it no t * • * - ' 
glow and freshness that peeped over the ’ ^ 

glorified the temple yard, and showed finn* ^ 
branches of the trees lining every street. ' ”* !, v... < 

faint breeze on our first morning, and a® ‘ V* 
rikishas jogged along the strangely unfan”’"' _ ,• . 
Chokoji the air was filled with^ fragrance h'’’*’ • • : ‘ * ■ 

shell-like petals that were continually dropi’”' - • • 

in drifts on the sloping roofs of the sno" 
hung over the sidewalks. -r i 

“How we love these fruitless, beautiful fi' , 

of our dying knighthood !” I thought vit i a , 
then I looked toward the hill where the i'- ; 

stand, and an amused gleam of satisfactioiY ■ 

The old spirit of protection still dwelt amiv-. r 
for on the foundation rocks rose a huge iiii-t' 
high platform and warning gong. 

The old house was no more. I had ’' ‘'V; , . . 

would decide to return, in time, and .‘‘P* ■ 

the home of his youth; for the gentle -■ 
had taken in late middle life had in eu ' . • / 
bring an heir to the Inagaki familv a y , 

out of life as gently as she had iivt. u s- ■ ' 

score of quiet years. But all Bn tin J ■ ■ • . ^ 



290 A DAUGHTER OF THE SAMURAI 

“Grandma” stood out vividly was a serious thing. But 
Hanano’s joy was profound. She was quiet, but busy 
every moment, going about with light, quick steps and 
singing softly all the while; and I never glanced at her 
that I did not meet a bright smile. Many times during 
the weeks of preparation, as I watched her happy face, 
the thought came to me that if— if — such a cruel thing 
could happen as that she would never reach the land of her 
heart’s love, I should always be grateful, anyway, for the 
quiet, overflowing joy of this season of hope. Nothing 
could ever take away that happy memory. 

The busy weeks flew by, and at last there came a morn- 
ing when the children, who had been turning down their 
fingers to count the days, gleefully announced that only 
two wide-spread hands were left. Ten days! We were 
almost ready, but however well one may plan, there always 
seem to be some unfinished things that are pushed away 
until the last crowded days. 

The children had never been to Nagaoka. Many times 
I had planned to go, but life was full for us and something 
had always interfered. But I could not allow them to 
leave Japan without a visit to the place where their 
grandmother lay beside her husband among the graves of 
our ancestors; so early one spring morning we started. 

How different was this trip from the one of years before 
which I took with my brother when on my way to school 
in Tokyo! Instead of a journey of several days, spent, 
sometimes perched upon a high wooden saddle, sometimes 
tucked snugly into a swinging kago and sometimes rolled 
and jolted along the rough path in a jinrikisha, this was 
only fourteen hours of comfortable riding on a brisk little 
narrow-gauge train, that wound its pufiing way up the 
mountains, through twenty-six tunnels that represented 
some of the world’s finest engineering. Between these 
dashes of darkness were welcome glimpses of sunny hill- 




292 A DAUGHTER OF THE SAMURAI 

distant eity amidst the progressive whir of factories and 
modern life, and he would listen to no plans beyond the 
education of his son. 

So the gods of Utility and Commerce had taken charge, 
and all that were left of our worthless treasures were re- 
moved to Sister’s godown. Then Jiya and Ishi had gone 
to distant homes; and now, in place of the great rambling 
house with its sagging thatch and tender memories, stood 
the ugly foreign buildings of “The Normal School for 
Girls.” The old chestnut tree beneath which was Shiro’s 
grave, and the archery field, where so often I had seen 
Father and Mr. Toda, each with his right sleeve slipped 
from a bare shoulder, in a strenuous, but laughing, game 
of competition, was lost in a wide gravelled campus, where 
modern schoolgirls marched and drilled in. pleated skirts 
and foreign shoes. Strange indeed it seemed — and full of 
heart-ache for me! I realized that these changes pointed 
toward a future of usefulness and hope, and I would not 
have retarded them for the world; but all the quiet pleas- 
ures and picturesque life of the past had been merged 
into a present that looked cheap and sordid. It was hard 
ior me, during my few days in the old town, to keep my 
memories of beautiful old customs and ideals from com- 
pletely overshadowing the new, progressive path that I was 
striving to follow. 

When our duty of love and honour to the dear ones was 
over, we went with Sister, who had come to Nagaoka to 
meet us, to her home on a mountain a few hours’ jinrikisha 
ride distant. It was an odd little village where she lived. 
So narrow was the ledge upon which it stretched its one- 
street length that, from the valley below, it looked as if a 
toy town of plaster walls and thatched roofs had been 
pinned up against the green side of the mountain. 

We left the valley, each with tandem pullers and a 


THE WHITE COW 


m 

pusher behind. It was a steep climb up a winding path 
from which reached out, on either side, long, even lines of 
scrubby trees. Occasionally the men would stop and, 
bracing themselves, would rest the shafts against their 
hips and wipe their hot faces. 

“It’s a breathless climb,” said one, as he smiled and 
pointed down into the valley, “but it’s worth the labour 
just to see yon terraces of green against the great brown 
rocks, and the sunny blue of the sky reflected brokenly in 
the rippling stream below.” 

said another, “so it is. The city fellows see 
naught but level streets and dusty roofs peeping above 
walls or fences of wood. I pity them.” 

Then on they went — panting but content. 

“What are all these low, twisted bushes with the gray 
trunks and so many little fresh buds ?” asked Hanano, in 
one of these pauses. 

“Mulberry trees,” replied Sister. “This is a silk- 
culture district, and the mountain is covered with cocoon 
villages. Almost every house here has wooden frames 
filled with trays of silkworms, and on a quiet day you 
can hear the rustle of their feeding as you walk along the 
street.” 

That sounded interesting indeed to the children and as 
we went on, they shouted questions and exclamations to 
each other about silkworms and their mulberry-leaf diet, 
until the long climb ended in a short, steep pull and an 
abrupt turn into a broad street of low, wide-eaved houses. 
At the farther end stood the large house of the village — 
Sister’s home. Its brownish-yellow thatch rose above a 
wall of rounded stones topped with a wooden fence, so 
like the one surrounding my old home in Nagaoka that 
the sight brought a shadow-ache of homesickness to my 
heart. 


294 A DAUGHTER OF THE SAMURAI 

^ W cordial country manners, the servants had come 
out to the big wooden gateway, and as our jinrikishas 
rolled between the two lines of bowing figures, I caught 
murmurs of the familiar, old-fashioned greeting, 

“Your return is welcome!” 

The quiet house seemed very restful after our long, 
jolting ride, and the hot bath which is always ready in old- 
fashioned Japan for the expected visitor refreshed us 
wonderfully. The children and I had just returned to the 
living room, where, settling ourselves comfortably on soft 
cushions, we were gazing across the porch straight out into 
the blue sky, for the valley and the world were far below 
us, when two maids appeared bringing in the dainty little 
tables for luncheon. 

“You’ll have to do without meat up here,” said Sister 
apologetically, as she came hurrying in. “We have only 
chickens and vegetables from my farm, and fish from the 
mountain streams. We cannot get meat or bread.” 

“That matters nothing,” I replied. “The children 
arte fond of fish and rice; and you know that I always liked 
everything green that grows. Don’t you remember the 
‘white cow’?” 

Sister laughed; and Hanano, always on the alert for a 
story, asked, “What is it about a white cow?” 

So, as we ate. Sister told a story of my childhood which 
dated back so far that my knowledge of it was only what 
others told me. 

“Your mother was not a very strong child,” she began, 
“ yet she was never really sick, either. At that time many 
of the Nagaoka people, when they were puzzled and help- 
less about a really serious matter, used to consult the 
priestess of a small Shinto shrine just outside the town; 
and Honourable Grandmother asked Father to send for the 
holy woman. For two days before she came, Etsu-bo 
was not allowed to eat whale-meat soup, or onion, or any 



THE WHITE COW 

food with an odour; and she was carefully instructed to 
be extremely good, both in behaviour and in thought. 

on the important morning Ishi' sprinkled her 
with cold water. Then she dressed her in her crest dress 
and took her to Honourable Grandmother's room. All the 
family were there, and several women relatives. ■ I remem-' 
ber how Etsu-bo looked as she toddled in, holding on to 
Mother’s hand. She bowed to everyone, and Mother 
seated her on the mat beside Honourable Grandmother, 
just a little in front of the rest of us. The tokonofna was 
covered with straw matting and decorated with all the 
sacred Shinto emblems. Of course the priestess was in 
the most honoured seat of all. She was dressed in pure 
white, and her black hair was hanging down her back, tied 
behind the shoulders with a band of rice-straw, from 
which dangled strips of white, zigzag-cut Shinto paper. 
When Mother and Etsu-bo were seated, the holy priestess 
prostrated herself two or three times; then she lifted from 
the tokonoma a whitewood rod that had on the end a 
bunch of long streamers of holy paper. She waved it 
above Etsu-bo’s head, murmuring some religious ritual. 
We all sat very quiet with bowed heads. After a moment 
of silence the priestess announced that she had just 
learned from the gods that Etsu-bo, in a previous exist- 
ence, had been a small white cow used in drawing lumber 
for the building of a Shinto shrine on the top of a moun- 
tain. The message said that the little creature had toiled 
;up the rocky path so patiently ■ and faithfully day after' 
'dajr, and had lent its strength so willingly for the holy' 
'duty, that the gods had hastened the slow steps of trans- 
migration and allowed the souiof the white cow to:;eiiter 
at once into the present life as a human being. 

Do you : mean that my mamma' was that' white: cow'r^: ' 
asked : Hanano, with wide-open, astonished eyes; while, 
Ghiyo '■Stopped eating anddooked at me with alarm. 


396 A DAUGHTER OF THE SAMURAI 

“Father didn’t believe the priestess,” added Sister, 
smiling; “nevertheless, to please Honourable Grand- 
mother, he made a generous gift to the shrine. But he 
always said it was not so much a gift of gratitude to the 
gods as it was a token of satisfaction that he could now 
account for Etsu-bo’s exceeding fondness for all green 
vegetables and her little liking for fish. Now, whether it 
was really true or not, doesn’t matter any more than any 
other fairy story; but it’s lucky for you children that your 
honourable mother is a faithful and a patient puller, for 
she has climbed over a rocky path of obstacles and al last 
is ready to pull you all the way over to America.” 

And she nodded merrily at the children as she served 
me another generous helping of bamboo shoots and 
greens. 

A few days later one of Sister’s neighbours, whose son 
was a successful oil merchant in Tokyo, came to see us. 
Meeting her recalled to both Hanano and me a very amus- 
ing incident connected with a call from the son’s wife soon 
after we had gone to Tokyo to live. She was a lady of the 
new-rich aristocracy — progressive, wealthy, and altogether 
“highkara ” — a recently coined word which implied the 
very essence of what was stylish and up-to-date. She 
was beautifully attired, in Japanese dress of course, for 
even the most progressive women had not reached 
the stage where European dress was worn on elegant 
occasions. 

After a long, ceremonious bow and the usual compli- 
mentary inquiries regarding the health of family and rela- 
tives, and also a few tactful remarks in praise of the 
flowers arranged on the tokomma, she leaned forward and 
unwrapped a square of beautiful crepe exquisitely dyed 
and embroidered. It is an age-old Japanese custom, when 
calling upon a friend, to take a gift, and my guest lifted 
out and presented, modestly but with evident pride, a 



THE WHITE COW 


297 

large imported paper box on which was printed in fancy 
English letters: 

JMPORTED DAINTIES 

A Foreign Delicacy Possessing the Fragrance of Flowers! 

Used by Ladies and Gentlemen 
in the 

Cultured Society of Europe and America 

It was a large, wholesale package of ordinary chewini, 
gum/ The elaborate, ceremonious manner of my guest, 
every movement being in accordance with the strictest eti- 
quette, made the unexpected appearance of that plebeian, 
package a most incongruous and amusing thing. Yet this 
was a perfectly natural gift for her to make. It was not 
easy to choose a suitable present for a person who had 
lived for several years in America, and who was believed 
to be foreign in her tastes; so my guest had gone to a store 
where foreign things were sold and, with considerable care, 
had selected this as being an especially appropriate 
for me. 

Hanano and Chiyo had been in the room when the box 
was presented. Chiyo looked with grave interest upon 
the foreign lettering. Of course she could not read it, but 
Hanano's first careless glance, as we all bowed slightly in 
acknowledgment of the kindness, was followed mstantly 
by another quick look; then, with a strange contortion of 
countenance, she bowed a deep Excuse me*^ aIld slipped 
qufckly from the room. 

As soon as the caller had gone she hurried in to me. 

'"Oh, Mamma,'’ she cried, gleefully, "just to think 
that Nakayama Sama should select that gift for you! 
What would she think if she could only know how you 
scolded me that time in America when I came home from 
school chewing a piece of gumi; And how you made me 



298 A DAUGHTER OF THE SAMURAI 

wash my mouth with salt and told me that if I were in 
Japan Ishi would say that I looked like the Buddhist pic- 
tures of a starving soul in the Hell of Hunger!” 

Sister was very much interested in this story. 

'‘It seems a peculiar custom,” she said, “but it is not so 
harmful as the one from which originated our blackening 
the teeth.” 

“What did start that. Sister?” I asked. “Several 
people in America asked me, and I could only tell them 
that ridiculous old story of the homely wife who stained 
her teeth by mistake, and it made her so beautiful' that 
she won devotion from her husband and envy from all 
other wives.” 

“There are many stories as absurd as that, about all our 
old customs,” said Sister. “When I made my first visit 
home with black teeth, I heard Father and Mr. Toda talk- 
ing about our ancestors once having had a fashion of 
chewing something. But the story that Honourable 
Grandmother told me was this : 

“Long ago, when everybody had white teeth, there lived 
a young wife whose jealous husband accused her of smiling 
to show her beautiful teeth. That day when cutting egg- 
plant for dinner she took some thin peelings and put them 
over her teeth. The husband returned and, seeing how 
beautifully the purple colour contrasted with his wife’s 
olive skin and scarlet lips, angrily asked why she had 
decorated herself. She told him she had tried to cover 
her teeth so that they would not show. Recognizing her 
modest worth, the husband was jealous no longer. Thus, 
more attractive than ever, she became a model to imitate, 
and in time, the added beauty of blackened teeth came to 
be the emblem of a trusted and dutiful wife. That is the 
story that Honourable Grandmother was told when she 
married.” 

What Sister had heard Father and Mr. Toda talking 



THE WHITE COW 


299 

about was probably the theory which is considered the 
most reasonable explanation of our custom of blackening 
the teeth. It is an historical fact that the first conquerors 
of Japan, who no doubt came originally from the hot 
shores of Central Asia, planted betel orchards in the warm 
islands of South Japan where they first landed; but on 
account of difference in soil and climate it was almost im- 
possible to make the trees grow. So, in a few years the 
habit of betel chewing became necessarily confined to 
those who represented wealth and rank. An ancient 
Imperial coach used by an Emperor who reigned more 
than a thousand years ago, and which is now in the Art 
Museum of Tokyo, was roofed with a thatch made of the 
husks of betel nuts. This speaks of the rarity of the betel 
trees at that time, for of course the Imperial cart was the 
most costly vehicle in the land. 

When the time came that only people of the highest 
class had betel-stained teeth, imitations became the 
fashion and substitutes were found. During the Middle 
Ages, long after the nuts were extinct in Japan, both men 
and women of high rank blackened their teeth with a 
powder made from a wild nut from the mountains. The 
Imperial courtiers kept up this custom to 1868. At that 
time even Meiji Tenno, the Emperor of the Restoration, 
had blackened teeth. The samurai never stained their 
teeth. They took pride in scorning any fashion that 
spoke more of luxury and ease than of strength and power 
of arms. After the Restoration this emblem of vanity 
faded before the advancing light of Western life; but, sug- 
gestive as it was of artistic beauty and high-class leisure, 
it remained with the women, and all classes adopted it as 
the marriage emblem. From then on, they blackened 
their teeth on their wedding day and kept them black ever 
after. 

The fashion is not an ugly one. When blackened every 



300 A DAUGHTER OF THE SAMURAI 

morning, the teeth look like polished ebony, and the gleam 
of shining black behind coral lips brings out the clear olive 
of the skin and looks as beautiful to Japanese eyes as did, 
to the eyes of a European, the dot of black courtplaster 
on the ivory skin of a maiden in the days of colonial 
America. The custom is now dying out, but it is still 
seen ever5rMrhere in rural districts. Even in large cities, 
almost all old ladies of very high rank and of very humble 
station still cling to the custom. The middle class of 
Japan always leads the way in progress. 



CHAPTER XXXI 


WORTHLESS TREASURES 

Tjlj^E SPENT a happy week with Sister in the little 
silkworm village, and our visit was almost ended 
when one day she took us into her big godown, where the 
things brought from Nagaoka had been stored. The 
greater part of our ancient treasures were now only worth- 
less burdens, but there were some things that I wanted 
the children to see; for, in the old days, they had been both 
useful and beautiful, and, to me, were still full of precious 
memories. 

We passed through the heavy door, a foot thick of fire- 
proof plaster, and entered a large room all four sides filled 
with shelves, most of them crowded full to the edge. 
There were rows and rows of high narrow boxes containing 
a whole library of soft-backed books. There were rows of 
still larger boxes holding small eating tables, and still 
others filled with dishes, trays, and all the reserve belong- 
ings of a prosperous household. There were long, slender 
boxes of roll pictures and many ornaments^ — bronze vases, 
incense burners, and carvings of wood and ivory — ^all 
neatly tied up in squares of cotton or silk, and placed 
within convenient reach, ready for the frequent changes 
necessary in a Japanese house. 

Part of the floor was taken up with chests of drawers 
arranged in rows, back to back; and in corners stood tall 
candlesticks, screens, and various large articles of house- 
hold use. 

“Just look!” cried Hanano, gazing about her in astonish- 

301 



302 


A DAUGHTER OF THE SAMURAI 


ment. “I never saw so many things, at once, in all my 
life!” 

“It’s like a store,” said Chiyo, “only everything is put 
away so nicely, and yet it’s all mixed up, too I” 

“Don’t be critical of my housekeeping,” laughed Sister. 
“A well-filled godown is said to be the best museum of 
household belongings that is to be found in all Japan; and 
it ought to be, for it is the place where we keep everything 
that is not in immediate use. Things are put in and pulled 
out every day. I never knew of a godown that looked 
in order.” ' 

But Sister’s godown really was in disorder, for in some 
half-filled shelves and in a wide space beyond the wooden 
steps leading to the floor above were gathered a lot of 
objects from our Nagaoka godowns, for which suitable 
places had not yet been found. Among some high lantern 
stands wrapped in oil-paper, and a pile of boxes containing 
war banners, I saw the big, cumbersome palanquin that 
Father had used on his official trips to the capital in the 
years before the name was changed from Yedo to Tokyo. 
The lacquer was dulled, the metal ornaments tarnished, 
and the brocade cushions faded; but Hanano thought it 
wondrously elegant. She crept inside, settled herself 
comfortably on the thick cushion, rested her elbow on the 
lacquer arm rest, and peeped into the toilet box in the silk 
pocket in front. Then she glanced at the misty reflection 
of her face in the metal hanging mirror and declared that 
Honourable Grandfather’s travelling coach was convenient 
and comfortable enough for a trip all the way to America. 

As she climbed out I pushed at the padded top, but the 
hinges were rusted. It used to lift and swing back. 
Many a time, when on a hurried trip. Father had dressed 
while his carriers were trotting fast and Jiya running by 
his side to help him now and then. 

“Here’s another palanquin— prettier than yours, Ha- J 


♦ WORTHLESf TREASURES 303 

nano,” chirped Chiyo, from behind the stairs; "only this 
one hasn’t any doors.” 

“Moat Maa!” laughed Sister, going over to her. 
“This is not to ride in, little Chiyo. It’s for a swim!” 
and she lifted her into an enormous bathtub of red lacquer 
which from my earliest recollection had stood in a comer 
of our godown. We used it for holding the cocoons, 
until the maids were ready to put them on the spindle to 
twist the silk threads off the poor, little, cooked inhabi- 
tants. The tub was marred on the edge, but not chipped 
anywhere, for the lacquer was of olden time. It still 
held the deep softness of velvet, and the band of braided 
bamboo showed beneath the polished surface like water 
weeds in a clear stream. It must have been very old, for 
it had been brought into our family as a part of the wed- 
ding dowry of my three-times-great-grandmother, the 
daughter of Yodo daimio, Inaba-no-kami. 

“Climb out, Chiyo! Climb out and come here!” 
called Hanano. “I’ve found a wooden stove-pipe hat — 
only,” she added, peering into it, “it has a funny inside.” 

She was standing in a shadowy corner where a number 
of miscellaneous articles were gathered on a crowded 
shelf, and had just lifted the tall cover from a shallow 
bucket of whitewood, the bottom having in its centre, 
rising sharp and strong, a short hardwood spike. It was 
Father’s head-bucket that always had been kept in the 
closed shelf-closet above our parlour tokonoma. 

“Let us go upstairs now,” I said quickly. “Sister, 
won’t you show the children your wedding cap of silk 
floss? They have never seen an old-fashioned wedding, 
where the bride’s cap comes down to the chin.” 

I. hurried them up the narrow stairs to the room above. 
I did not want to explain to the children the use of the head- 
bucket. Their modern, practical education held nothing 
that would enable them to understand the deep sentiment 


304 A DAUGHTER OF THE SAMURAI 

of honour which has inspired many an ancient samurai, 
who, when guilty of some unlawful act, has chosen to die 
an honourable death by his own hand, rather than bring 
upon his family the disgrace of a public execution. In 
such a case the head-bucket, one of which every samurai 
house possessed, was used to carry to court the proof that 
the law had been obeyed. After being identified by the 
authorities, the head was returned, with respectful cere- 
monies, to the family; and the dead samurai, his crime 
now fully expiated, was buried with honour. 

Of course, the gruesome mission of our head-bucket" had 
never been fulfilled. Its only duty had been the occasional 
holding of a coil of hemp when Honourable Grandmother 
or Ishi was twisting it ready to spin. It was as convenient 
for that purpose as a flax-box. Indeed, the two looked so 
much alike that no bride was ever allowed to have a 
flax-box, although in those days all other spinning imple- 
ments were considered essential to every wedding dowry. 

The upstairs room of Sister’s godown was lighted by 
narrow, iron-barred windows set deep in the thick plaster 
wall. The shutters, which were really heavy plaster 
doors, were open, and a pleasant breeze was blowing 
through the room, making it cool and airy. Against the 
walls were chests of drawers and great wooden boxes hav- 
ing metal bands, on some of which I saw the Inagaki crest. 
I could readily guess what Sister’s chests contained, for 
her large house was well stocked with all the requirements 
of a country home. There were padded-silk comforts, 
round pillows for men and little lacquer box-pillows for 
women, large mosquito nets made to swing by short cords 
from the corners of the ceiling, thus enclosing the entire 
room, and cushions of every kind— soft, thick ones of 
heavy silk for winter; thin ones of woven grass for sum- 
mer, braided bamboo for the porch, woven rope for the 



WORTHLESS TREASURES 


305 

kitchen, some round, some square, some plain, and some 
elaborately dyed in patterns — ^for cushions were our 
chairs, and every house had to have a supply always on 
hand. 

“This holds my ‘treasure dresses,’ ” said Sister, waving 
her hand toward a low chest of drawers. “The clothes 
that I wear I keep downstairs within easy reach ; but 
some of these have been in the family for more than two 
hundred years.” 

She took out an elaborately embroidered trained gar- 
ment with a scarlet lining and heavily padded hem — a 
dress of ceremony, worn, even in ancient times, only on 
state occasions. It looked fresh and almost new, for 
Japanese women are careful housekeepers, and probably 
this gown had been shaken out and examined on every 
airing-day since it was first used by the ancestor of long 
ago. 

“It looks just like the splendid dresses we saw in that 
play at the Tokyo theatre, doesn’t it?” said Hanano. 

And indeed it did. For only on the stage were these 
gorgeous costumes to be seen in modern life. 

The next drawer held Sister’s wedding dresses — seven 
of them. There was the soft, white linen, emblem of 
death to her own home, the scarlet silk, emblem of birth 
into her husband’s family, and the five other elaborately 
embroidered gowns bearing her husband’s crest and the 
marriage emblems of pine, bamboo, and plum. 

“Here is the wedding cap you asked to see,” said Sis- 
ter, presently, unfolding something that looked like a 
great satiny mushroom. It was of exquisite pressed silk 
floss and made to fit rather close over the head and 
shoulders. It looked like a thick, shining veil. 

“Oh, isn’t it pretty?” cried Chiyo, delighted. “Put it 
on, Hanano, and let’s see how you look!” 


3o6 a daughter OF THE SAMURAI 

1 

I gave a half-frightened gasp, and was glad when Ha- I 

nano, with a slow smile, shook her head. I don’t know 
why the child refused. Perhaps the soft whiteness of the 
snowy floss suggested in some vague way the white mourn- 
ing clothes we had worn at Mother’s funeral. While 
there was no definite superstition regarding the wearing ^ 

of wedding garments after the ceremony, still, it was never 
done. They were laid away — ^to wait. Both Honourable 
Grandmother and my mother wore the wedding dress be- 
neath the death-robe when they were ready for the last j 

journey. 

The very next chest — ^just as marriage and death go 
hand in hand as the two most important ceremonies in 
Japanese life — ^held articles for the funeral. This chest 
was one of those from my home and was about half filled 
with a disordered array of ceremonious uniforms for the 1 

men who carried the tall lanterns, the bamboo doye cage, ; 

and the heavy death 'kago. These were all made of linen, 
since no silk was ever used at a funeral. There were also 
pleated skirts and stiff shoulder garments for retainers 1 

with no family crest, white-banded servant kimonos, boxes * 

of knee bands, pilgrim sandals, and countless small articles < 

essential for the various attendants in the elaborate pro- i 

cession. I could remember when that chest contained 
everything requisite for a samurai funeral except the wide | 

straw hats that shade the sorrowing faces from the Sun 
goddess. Those had to be fresh and new for each oc- i 

casion. The house of every high ofiicial always had these 
things in readiness, for death often comes without warn- ! 

ing, and Japanese rules for ceremonious occasions were 
strict and unvarying. i 

“There 1” said Sister, as she closed the lid of the chest 
and pushed the metal bar through the triple clasp, “the 
usefulness of these things belongs with their gloiy— to the 
past. Sometimes I cut up a garment to get linen bind- 



WORTHLESS TREASURES 307 

ing for a worn-out mat, and occasionally, when a workman 
breaks his sandal cord, I present him with a pair of sandals 
from this chest; but the things go slowly — slowly.” 

“But this,” she added, gently tapping a drawer in a 
fresh whitewood chest, “belongs to the future. It will 
be used some day.” 

“What is it?” I asked. 

“My death-robe.” ^ 

“Oh, Sister,” I said earnestly, “please show it to the 
children. They saw Mother’s, of course, but I had no 
chance to explain the meaning.” 

She opened the drawer and lifted out her shroud. We 
all sat very quiet, for as it was folded it looked exactly like 
the one we had placed on Mother. It was made of soft 
white linen, and instead of a sash, had a narrow band like 
that of a baby’s first dress, for the belief was that we enter 
the next world as an infant. The robe was almost covered 
with texts from the Buddhist scriptures, which had been 
written by famous priests at various times. A blank strip 
in front showed that it was not yet finished. Beside the 
robe lay a small white bag intended to be placed around 
the neck. It would contain, when all was ready for Sis- 
ter’s last journey, a tiny package of her baby hair, shaved 
off at the christening ceremonies when she was eight days 
old, the dried navel cord, her cut widow-hair, a six-rin 
coin to pay the ferryman, a death rosary of white 
wooden beads, and a sacred tablet called “The Heavenly 
:Pass.”_ ; 

- While Sister was re-folding the robe she glanced up at 
the grave faces of the children and broke into a merry 

“Why so sad, thou solemn-faced ones?” she cried. 
“Would it not be a disgrace should I receive a telegram to 
go home and have no suitable dress for the journey?” 

“Yes, children,” I added, “it is as natural and comnion- 



308 A DAUGHTER OF THE SAMURAI 

place for everyone in Japan to be ready for the last joun 
ney as it is in America to have a trunk in the house.” 

“Come over this way,” said Sister, leading us to the 
other side of the room. “Here is something that belongs 
to you, Etsu-bo. You had better take charge of it.” 

She pulled out a narrow drawer. Within, wrapped in 
purple crepe on which was the Inagaki crest, lay a slender 
parcel about a foot long. My heart gave a bound. It 
was one of our three family treasures — the saihai used by 
Tokugawa leyasu, and presented by him to my ancestor 
on the battlefield of Sekigahara. 

Reverently I lifted the precious thing to my forehead. 
Then, bidding the children sit with bowed heads, I slowly 
unwrapped the square of crepe, disclosing a short, thick 
rod of lacquered wood, having on one end a silk cord for 
a wrist loop and on the other a bronze chain-clasp that held 
a bunch of soft, tough paper cut in strips. 

We all sat very quiet while Sister told the children of the 
brave ancestor who, in a time of peril, saved the life of his 
great overlord; and how leyasu, in gracious remembrance, 
presented him with his own bloodstained coat, his wonder- 
ful Masamune sword, and this rod which he used in guiding 
his followers on the battlefield. “And,” concluded Sister, 
“all three are still kept in the Inagaki family as sacred 
treasures.” 

“It looks like just a plain wooden stick, doesn’t it?” 
whispered Chiyo to Hanano. 

“So it is,” said Sister. “As plain as the most simple 
director rod used by any ancient general; for leyasu lived 
in the age when was written, ‘An ornamental scabbard 
signifies a dull blade.’” 

“The pieces of paper are so yellow and ragged,” said 
Hanano. “ Did they use to be white ?” 

“Yes,” I answered. “They are yellow because they 
are so old. And the reason the papers are ragged is be- 


WORTHLESS TREASURES 


309 

cause so many pieces have been torn ofF for people to 
eat.” 

“ lb exclaimed both children, horrified 

I couldn’t help smiling as I explained that many people 
used to believe that because the saihai had been held in 
the hand of leyasu, the paper strips possessed the magic 
power of healing. I have heard my mother say that sick 
people often came from long distances just to beg for a 
bit of the paper to roll into a pellet and swallow as a cure. 
Father always laughed, but he told Mother to give the 
paper, saying that it was less harmful than most medicine, 
and that belief alone frequently cures. 

We were starting to go downstairs when I stopped beside 
a large whitewood box having the over-lapping lid and 
the curved feet of a temple book chest. It stood on a 
platform raised a little above the floor. I had seen this 
box in my childhood, but never except on airing-days, and 
always it had the sacred Shinto rope around it. With 
some hesitation I called Sister to come back. 

“I am very bold,” 1 said, “but would you mind if I 
ask you to open the ^iri-wood box.? Our feelings have 
changed since the old days, and I would so like for the 
children— — ” 

“Etsu-bo, you ask to gaze upon sacred things ” 

Sister began hastily; then, stopping abruptly, she shrugged 
her shoulders. “After all, women’s eyes have already 
looked upon it,” she added a little bitterly; “the new order 
of things has done much to take the spirit of reverence 
from us all.” 

Then we, she at one end and I at the other, lifted off the 
lid just as Jiya and Yoshita in their ceremonial dresses used 
to do, long ago. I felt a little awestruck as we leaned over 
and looked within. Some of the sacred relics had been 
removed. The coat and sword of leyasu were in charge of 
another branch of the family, and Brother had taken the 



THE SAMURAI 

books of the TnagaM genealogy; but^ before us, lying 
shroud-like in its pressed stillness, was a garment, once 
white, but now yellowed by time, A pointed cap and an 
ancient unfolding fan of thin wood lay on top. It was 
the sacred robe which was used when the daimio, or his 
representative, officiated as high priest in the temple ded- 
icated to his ancestors and was believed to possess 
heavenly power. My grandmother had told me that 
once, when it was worn by my great-grandfather, a miracle 
had been performed beneath the shadow of its wide-spread 
sleeve. _ 

We gazed only a moment, then the box was silently 
closed: Neither Sister nor I spoke of it again, but I 
knew that she felt, as I did, that we had been a little 
daring in lifting the lid of this box, which, in ancient days, 
was always kept in the holy room, even the entrance hall 
of which was never profaned by woman’s foot. I had 
grown away from my childhood faith in these things, but 
not entirely away from the influence of memory; and 
thoughts, beautiful and solemn, were crowding my mind 
when there came a sudden ^‘bang!” from one of the heavy, 
swinging windows. They were always closed from the out- 
side by a servant with a long pole, and evidently were 
being shut this time by someone who did not know that 
we: were' still there.' 

^^Maa! Maa! It is late. Make haste, I inhospitably 
beg you,” laughed Sister; and we all scrambled down the 
narrow- stairs and out of the door, hearing the windows 
bang one after another behind us, shutting the godown, 
with all its treasures, into darkness. 


CHAPTER XXXII 


THE BLACK SHIPS 

T he night before we sailed my Tokyo uncle called, 
bringing with him a package of “friendship ribbons” 
for the children — ^those frail, dainty, quivery strips that 
bind the hands of friends between deck and dock at the 
moment of starting — and parting. 

“I’ll hold a pink one for Toshiko and a blue one for 
Kuni San,” cried Chiyo, as the bright-coloured rolls 
tumbled out of the package, “and a white one for my 
teacher and a purple one for— for yow. Uncle Tosa! 
Two of the most beautiful for you, of any colour you 
choose!” 

' “I’ll hold a whole bunch of red and white ones for all 
Japan!” said Hanano. “Love, much love, and good-bye; 
for I’ll never come back. I love everybody here, but I’m 
going to stay for ever with Grandma in ‘Home, Sweet 
Home,”’ and she softly hummed the tune as she slipped 
away, her face full of light. Ah, how little she dreamed 
that in years to come she would return — more than once— 
and always with a heart full of double loyalty: half for the 
land of her birth and half for the land of love, where were 
husband, children, and home. 

Hanano and Chiyo had gone to bed, and I was attend- 
ing to the last scattered duties of the packing when Sudzu 
lifted a folded shawl to lay on top of the tray before 
closing a trunk. 


312 A DAUGHTER OF THE SAMURAI 

“This is rather loose,” she said. “A cushion would 
exactly fit; but how ridiculous it would be to carry to a 
great country like America just an ordinary cushion that 
we sit on.” 

She did not know that in the bottom of my trunk 
of greatest value was something which, until I had 
seen it in Sister’s godown, I had never dreamed could 
be anywhere except beside the familiar fire-box in 
the room of Honourable Grandmother. It was a 
square, flat cushion of blue brocade, old and somewhat 
faded. 

I was alone when I wrapped it for its long journey, and, 
as my hands passed over the silken flowers, my mind went 
back — back to the day when a little black-haired girl in 
wooden clogs clattered through the big gateway and, 
hurrying her polite bows of greeting to the family, spread 
out before her grandmother, who was seated on this very 
cushion, a large, flat book. 

“Honourable Grandmother,” she said, pointing to a 
coloured map of the world, “I am much, much troubled. 
I have just learned that our beloved land is only a few 
tiny islands in the great world.” 

The grandmother adjusted her big horn spectacles and 
for a few minutes carefully studied the map. Then with 
slow dignity she closed the book. 

“It is quite natural, little Etsu-bo, for them to make 
Japan look small on this map,” she said. “It was made 
by the people of the black ships. Japan is made large on 
the Japanese maps of the world.” 

“Who are the people of the black ships ?” asked the little 
^:^rl.: ^ ' . ^ . ■ 

“They are the red barbarians who came uninvited to our 
sacred land. They came in big, black ships that moved 
without sails.” 



THE BLACK SHIPS 


313 

‘T know. Ishi sings it to me”j and her shrill little 
voice chanted: 

“They came from a land of darkness. 

Giants with hooked nose like mountain imp; 

Giants with rough hair, loose and red; 

They stole a promise from our sacred master 
And danced with joy as they sailed away 
To the distant land of darkness. 

*T wonder why they were called ‘black ships.’ Do you 
know, Honourable Grandmother?” 

“Because far out on the waters they looked likfe iqlouds 
of black smoke rolling nearer and nearer, and they "had 
long, black guns that roared. The red barbarians cared 
nothing for beauty. They laughed at the Japanese boats, 
whose sails were made of rich brocade and their oars of 
carved wood, inlaid with coral and mother-of-pearl. They 
talked like tradesmen and did not want to learn the hearts 
of the children of the gods.” 

The grandmother stopped and slowly shook her head. 

“And after that?” asked the eager little voice. “And 
after that. Honourable Grandmother?” 

“The black ships and the rude barbarians sailed away,” 
she concluded, with a deep sigh. “But they sailed back 
many times. They are always sailing. And now the 
people of our sacred land also talk like tradesmen and no 
longer are peaceful and content.” 

“Will they never be peaceful and content again?” 
asked the little girl, with anxious eyes. “The honourable 
teacher said that sailing ships bring lands nearer to each 
other.” 

“Listen!” said the grandmother, holding herself very 
straight. “Little Granddaughter, unless the red bar- 
barians and the children of the gods learn each other’s 


314 A DAUGHTER OF THE SAMURAI 

hearts, the ships may sail and sail, but the two lands 
will never be nearer.” 

Years passed, and Etsu-bo, the little girl who had lis- 
tened to the story of the black ships and the red barbarians, 
herself went sailing on a black ship that moved without 
sails, to a new home in the distant land of the red barbar- 
ians. There she learned that hearts are the same on both 
sides of the world; but this is a secret that is hidden from 
the people of the East, and hidden from the people of the 
West. That makes another chapter to my grandmother’s 
tale — another chapter, but not the last. The red Bar- 
barians and the children of the gods have not yet learned 
each other’s hearts; to them the secret is still unknown, 
but the ships are sailing — ^sailing